Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Raising Olives is Moving

Ok, take a deep breath and get ready for some action. Raising Olives is moving. Come visit the new Raising Olives and then change your links, favorites, bookmarks, feeds, or whatever you use to read Raising Olives, you don't want to miss out on all the action.

I will be leaving this site up, but all new posts will be over there. Come on, what are you waiting for http://raisingolives.com/, move it!

I'm Famous Thanks to "Trenches of Motherhood"

Mandy over at From the Trenches Of Motherhood featured our blog in her post today. She included more information about our family and why we decided to blog, so if your interested, head on over and read it here and while your there tell her thanks and look over the rest of her blog!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vision Forum Spring Sale

Did you hear? Vision Forum is having their spring sale! Now is the time to stock up for birthdays and Christmas gifts, oh and some things from your wish list also.

Some of our favorites are:

Ten P's in a Pod - This book has inspired us to be more faithful at Bible reading and memorization. It also is an amazing story of a families ultimate trust in God for all of their daily needs.

Jonathan Park - Did you love your free download? Collect the rest of the series. Mark is listening to these and working through the study guides with the older children in the evening. It is a great science and creation resource. The complete set is discounted 32% and individual titles are 30% off.

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary - Need I say anything more? If you don't already own this, grab it while it's on sale.

We have too many favorites to even list. Our girls were listening to the Cd "Victory for Daughters" this afternoon and our children older children have listened to "What to Expect From a Twelve-Year Old" over and over again.

So head over to Vision Forum and take a look, but hurry the Spring Sale ends March 18.

Homeschooling - Memorization System Tutorial

These supplies are all you need for making an amazing memorization system.

  • 4x6 Index cards

  • 4x6 Dividers

  • An index card box
It is frustrating for our children to memorize something and then forget it. This system solves that forgetting problem. Even if they memorized something three years ago ,when they were only 2, they will still remember it if you are faithful with this system.

Are you ready?

This post has moved to our new homepage, read the rest of the Memorization System Tutorial or visit the new Raising Olives homepage.

Not Me! Monday - Ice Cream

Thursday, I did not fall asleep on the couch at 7:30pm surrounded by 9 rambunctious children and so neglect to give the children their special surprise treat of ice cream to celebrate that Suzanne has spring break and will be gone for a whole week is finished with mid-terms.

This post has moved to our new site. Read Not Me! Monday - Ice Cream or visit our homepage and choose the Not Me Monday category to read more Not Me Monday posts.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reasons We Have a Large Family

In no particular order:

1. When God said, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord...Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalm 127)", we believe He meant it.

2. World domination.

3. We know what causes it.

This post has moved to our new website. Read the rest of this post or visit our new homepage.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dutch Puff Recipe

This breakfast recipe is one of our favorites and has stayed on our menu plan through several revisions. It is fast, easy and filling. It is also fun to serve for company as it dresses up nicely when you add some pretty, fresh fruit topping.

This post has moved to our new site. Visit the Dutch Puff Recipe or our new homepage.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cross Country

The excitement level is high in our house, cross country has started back up. Our oldest five are able to run this season and are in high spirits. They will be competing in their first 5K, so are excited about doing a little longer distance in a race.

Cross country is a great activity for our family. Everyone can participate, even those who are too young to actually compete. We all love heading to the park in the afternoon and walking or running for a couple of miles. Nicholas gets put in the Ergo, Colby walks some then rides in the stroller and I bribe the younger ones with time on the playground in order to get them to run a mile and a half or two so that I can get some exercise. Then we chill on the slide and swing while the bigger kids finish their distance. We also enjoy running in the evenings or around the neighborhood with daddy.

I'm so happy that spring is here coming and we are running again.

Laundry Help - The Family Closet

The family closet is a laundry/storage system that has always interested me. You must click on the link, it's just pictures, go on. If you aren't intrigued after looking at the pictures then you don't have to read anymore, I promise.

Still here? The premise is simple, store all of the clothes or at least all of the children's clothes in one room, preferably the laundry room.

This post has moved to our new site. Read Laundry Help - The Family Closet or visit our homepage and choose the laundry category to read all of my posts about laundry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Serious.Life Magazine- March Issue

Serious.Life Magazine

The March issue of Serious.Life magazine just came out. It is available online for free. Check it out for some inspiring articles about faith and family.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - The Wipes

Check out other's "Wordless Wednesday" posts over at 5 Minutes for Mom or enjoy some of my other Wordless Wednesday's.
See my posts on homeschooling or home management.

Laundry Help - Make Your Own Laundry Soap

A few years ago I Googled directions for making laundry detergent, made up a batch and HATED it. We didn't like how it cleaned ( or rather didn't clean) our clothes and so I scrapped the idea.

Several months ago, the economic climate being what it is and the fact that I had run out of our mega bucket of Charlie's Laundry Powder, I decided to rethink the whole homemade laundry soap idea.

The directions for making your own laundry soap have moved to our new blog. Visit the laundry soap post or our new homepage.

Fight Abortion - Spread the Word About CHASK

CHASK (Christian Homes and Special Kids) is a program that is:

"Helping families with an adverse prenatal diagnosis. Today, 80% of
unborn babies with medical concerns are aborted.
We want parents to
hear about life choices. CHASK provides family to family support helping
families raise their child with special needs. Loving homes are waiting to
these children if the birth moms and dads are not able to parent.
This post has moved to our new blog. Read Spread the Word about CHASK or visit our new homepage.

Laundry Help - Shrinking Mt. Washmore - Part 1

Our family produces a lot of laundry. We have the normal amount of clothes, towels, and bedding that any group of 12 people would produce and in addition we use cloth napkins, cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth cleaning rags. This saves money and resources, but produces more laundry.

So how do we keep up with it all? Well, sometimes we don't, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier and I've tried several different systems. I plan to share some ideas and plans that have helped us.

This post has moved to the new Raising Olives. Finish reading Shrinking Mt. Washmore or visit our new homepage and click on Home Management- Laundry/Clothes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Not Me! Monday

When I was getting our two youngest boys ready for bed, I did not discover that my task was made lighter by half because one of them was still in his pj's. What kind of mother would let one of her children stay in his pajamas all day?

I have not been staying up late AND getting up early. If I did that I would be grumpy and difficult to get along with and I have not been grumpy or difficult to get along with.

I did not go to the library book sale three times last week. We already have loads of books and I am running out of shelf space.

If I had gone to the book sale multiple times and purchased more books than we have room for, one of those books would not have been a book about de-cluttering. Wouldn't that have been counterproductive?

Go visit MckMamma's blog to see what others have not been doing this week, or check out my other "Not Me!" Monday posts!

Wonder how a family of 12 functions? Checkout my home management or homeschooling posts.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Homemade Buttermilk and Yogurt

Here are three quick and easy ways to save money on your dairy expenses without cutting your usage.

Make your own buttermilk, make your own yogurt, and how to use powdered milk in your cooking.

These recipes have moved to our new blog. Visit Homemade Buttermilk and Yogurt or go to our homepage for more recipes, money saving tips and information on raising a large family.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Night Time Antics

Colby's (2) favorite person to take him to the bathroom is Matthew. A few hours after putting the children to bed we heard a commotion upstairs. When we entered the boys bedroom, Colby had exited his bed, climbed to the top of the ladder and was clinging to the top bunk and shouting, "Mafew, Mafew, I have to go pooootyyy." By the time we arrived he was quite upset that Matthew was still soundly sleeping and the decibel level was nearly deafening. "MAAAAAAFEW, I HAVE TO GO POOOOOOTYYY!" Happily he was satisfied with some help from Dad.

Another evening, after I had been in bed for a few hours I heard a voice calling, "Mommy." Unwilling to get out of bed, I called, "What honey?" A moment later there was a knock at our door. Still hoping to remain in bed I replied, "Come in." Nothing. I knew the gig was up. I got out of bed and opened the door. Without so much as a sidelong glance at me, Colby, blanket in tow, marched across the room and over to my side of the bed. Then he turned and requested, "Sleep in Mommy Daddy's bed?" "Don't you want to sleep on this nice soft rug?", I suggested. "No, Mommy Daddy's bed." I think that he enjoyed his sick privileges a little too much.

Want to read some more about my amazingly active, adventurous, and insane 2 year old? Try his response to getting sick, his midnight travels, or how he ambushed me.

Our Hot House

When plants are young and fragile you put them in a hot house where you can control the climate they are in and the conditions to which they are subjected. In the hot house they are able to grow strong and well. They are cared for and nourished in a special way.

Our family was blessed to begin our journey in a hot house. Our home church was a place where loving God and loving your family was expected, where desiring God's blessing of children was taught, understood and practiced. A place where fathers were the leaders of their homes and where parents took their responsibility to educate and train their children seriously. It was a place where the word of God was faithfully proclaimed and was the standard by which we attempted to measure everything.

It was our hot house. Our place to learn and mature and grow strong, a place unlike any other that we have known. It was not a perfect place, you know that. It was a place full of sinners saved by grace, but it was a place where we were taught and we learned so very much from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, our journey is not over, we have not arrived, but now, now we are planted in a different place.

Why am I telling you this? Because this place, this hot house, made us what we are today. Our family was not remarkable back in the hot house. There were many other families doing what we are doing. This blog is simply a conglomeration of what we have learned from others. It is not only our wisdom that we share, it is also the wisdom of the other families who were learning and growing with us in the supportive and nurturing environment.

Three and a half years ago God moved us to a place where we were outside of our comfort zone. A place where we had reach out to look for others who were traveling our path. Through that experience, we learned that there are many travelers who believe they are alone and do not know that there are others who have the same aspirations and goals.

Knowing that you are not alone on this path of following God and attempting to submit to His word in every area of your life brings comfort, encouragement, and peace. We want to share a little of this here. A little of that hot house of encouragement and love, a place to learn and grow and know that you are not alone. There are others who are on the path learning and struggling and growing also. There are families farther along the path from whom we can gather so much wisdom and there are those who have just started who could use a helping hand.

We want to thank our home church friends and family for teaching us, being examples for us and praying for us. Thank you for being willing to invest in us. Please keep it up, we have a lot to learn.

Read more about our background here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

Suzanne made this for dinner the other evening and it was delicious. I have been craving it ever since.

Mexican Lasagna


  • 2 T. olive oil (optional)

  • 2 lbs. ground beef

  • 2 T. chili powder

  • 2t. ground cumin

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1 14 oz. stewed tomatoes

  • 1 C. taco sauce

  • 1 can black beans, drained

  • 1 C. frozen corn

  • salt

  • 8-8in. flour tortillas

  • 2 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, grated

  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°. Preheat large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and onion,brown and drain. Season with chili power, cumin, then add tomatoes, taco sauce, black beans, and corn. Heat mixture through 2-3 minutes, then season with salt to taste. Grease Baking dish. Layer meat, tortillas, cheese and repeat as needed. Bake 12-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. (May top with green onions) Serves 6-8.

Plan ahead and cook the beans from dry, make your own tortillas and taco sauce and this meal ends up being an inexpensive dinner.

Home Management - The Menu Plan

One of the things that has made it easier for me to feed 11-12 people, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week is working out a menu plan for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks (and bulk, freezer cooking for dinners, but that is a different post.) There is freedom in not having to make food related decisions in the midst of teaching school or cleaning house, in not needing to make up a new grocery list every couple of weeks, and in not feeling guilty because the children are eating the same thing day after day.

This post has moved to our new blog. Visit Home Management - The Menu Plan or our new homepage and search menu plan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Sibling Rivalry


You can see other WW posts here .

Vision Forum Sale and Coupon Code

Did you know that when a bee finds nectar it goes back to the hive and give "directions" to the other bees by doing a little bee dance? Did you know that there is a spider that scuba dives with it's own little air bubble so that it can breath while working underwater?

These are some of the things that you will learn and see in the Moody Science DVDs. They are amazing, educational and fun, and now through March 10 the whole set of 19 DVDs is on sale at Vision Forum.

Vision Forum also has a new coupon good for 70% off the Cd Victories Large and Small with the purchase of Doug Phillip's heart-warming book The Little Boy Down the Road. You may view two full chapters of the book here and here.

To get this discount use coupon code "0309cd" without the quotes at check out.

You may enter Vision Forum at any time through the links in my sidebar. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WFMW- Family Fun Night

Every Friday at our house is Family Fun Night. The children know what to expect and look forward to it all week long.

The fun usually begins after dinner when everyone runs to get ready for bed, grabs their pillows and blankets and heads downstairs. We play games, read books, listen to a story on Cd, or just watch a movie. We snuggle and play and enjoy spending some fun, relaxing time together.

The fun is not over when the movie ends, it is just beginning. The best part of Family Fun Night is that we all sleep together. The children take turns sleeping next to mom and dad. Sometimes the children make little tents, but we always snuggle up and sleep together on Friday nights.

Making amazing memories by spending time with my family that Works For Me!

WARNING: Sleeping on the floor with no additional padding is not recommended for children over 25!

Check out everyone else's Works For Me Wednesday posts here or view my other WFMW posts.


For his birthday Carter (7) got a set of motion sensing devices that he can set so that they sound an alarm, light up and even fire darts if activated. To mention that our house has been a danger zone ever since would be unnecessary. There are alarms blaring, lights flashing and darts whizzing constantly.

Since I am cunning and constantly aware of my surroundings, cough, cough I had avoided being the victim, until today. I was undone by my sweet and charming yet deadly 2 year old.

It was nap time and I had put Colby in his bed, prayed with him and left to get his Cd. When I returned and knelt to put the Cd in the player I was hit, nearly in the face with two darts. Like any self respecting mom, I screamed. I was totally not expecting a dart in the face. Colby just laid in the bed laughing and saying, "Shoot Mommy, ha ha ha shoot mommy." I'm glad that someone is happy.

Homeschooling-Nature Journals

We just bought Savannah her nature journal and yesterday was her first entry. So I thought I would share with you how we use nature journals in our homeschool.

We began using nature journals for science about 7 years ago. Don't be fooled however, nature journaling teaches them much more than science. They also learn observation, art and basic research, not to mention they understand that they are able to learn on their own. They realize that they can go out, see something they don't understand, and then find the answers. They learn to be their own teacher.

When our children are old enough to begin a nature journal, between 4 and 6 depending on the child, we allow them access to some good quality art supplies. We use Prismacolor pencils. They allow our children to add detail and color and are easy for the little ones to manipulate. We have given our children more options as their art skills have progressed. These Caran D'ache water color crayons are my new favorites. I will suggest that if you expect quality results give them some quality tools. (Trust me on this one, I don't recommend spending money very often but nice art supplies are worth the investment IMO.)

The first assignment that we give each child is for them to go out into the yard and look around very carefully. They are looking for something that they have not noticed before. It can be the veins in a leaf, the spots on a fuzzy caterpillar, a blue rock or the fact that our dog has her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. When they notice something that is new to them, they get to draw it. They must look at it while they draw and we encourage them to try to notice even more details while they are working. If our child notices a bird or something else which would not stay put long enough to draw, they may look it up and draw from a picture in a book or online.

If your children are like mine, their first drawings will not be impressive. It is okay if the drawing is immature and even unrecognizable. Their art skills will improve over time. At this point just encourage them to notice details and to try to include them in the drawing. So if your child noticed the veins in a leaf, and has drawn an uneven circle with lines going who-knows-where, that is wonderful. They have learned to look more closely at nature and to communicate what they discovered through art.

Next we have the children write something about their drawing. For the example of the drawing of veins in a leaf, we would ask what she just drew. If she says, "I drew lines in the leaf," then we would direct her to a source where she could discover what those lines are called. If she already knows that they are called veins then we would ask her to find out why a leaf has veins. The idea is to require them to find out something new and write that beside their picture. As soon as she understands how and where to find information, she no longer needs help with what to write unless she is having difficulties.

We require one nature entry a week. When I look at their assignment for the week they are usually full of information that they want to share with me. After we have discussed their page, I will usually tell them what I want them to do for the next week. Often the assignment will be exactly the same as the one I outlined above. However, if I notice that a particular child is struggling to do meaningful research or is stuck in a rut, I will give them a more specific assignment to help them progress in their ability. For example, if they are failing to convey new and meaningful information on their nature page, I would give them a specific question to answer or a process to explain for their next assignment.

If you don't have time to do anything more than this, your children will still benefit greatly by taking some time out each week to observe, wonder, draw, and study God's creation. However, I highly recommend the Handbook of Nature Study. We use this to give us more focus and to help us go deeper into a topic. You can work your way through a section doing a page on all the plants (or whatever) that are native to your area. It is an amazing resource; the only nature text that you will ever need.

Allow your children to enjoy journaling. As something interests your child, let them explore it further. We have studied rocks, leaves, squirrel habits, butterfly life cycles, live bearing fish, and the reproductive process of our pet guinea pigs. Hmm, I should probably get my children to produce some nature pages about ants.

If your children tend to focus on different aspects of nature, set aside time for them to show each other their books and talk about what each one is learning. This expands everyone's horizons.

They don't have to learn it all in a week. They don't have to produce a work of art every time. It is the process that teaches. Relax and enjoy.

Here are other posts on homeschooling, including why we homeschool and our most important assignment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Me Monday

I did not allow the ant farm on the table during dinner, nope not me. Who wants to eat while watching a bunch of ants scurrying and digging, well, except for my husband and 9 children?

When I discovered that the children were digging their hole to China at the base of our slide, I was not less-than-thrilled. I mean who wouldn't want to slide all the way to China? I am not going to make them fill in their giant hole and start all over again, back in the woods, not me.

I did not dress my 10 month old in a Christmas outfit in March. I always dress my children in season appropriate clothing and their outfits always match.

I do not encourage allow our 2 year old to run around in his underwear just because I think he looks way too cute in his boxer briefs.

When I brought the rug in from the deck rail, I did not discover bird poop on it. I am a devoted mother, so did not balk at the idea of cleaning up after a BIRD.

When packing for our trip I did not forget to pack my hose and shoes for church. After all I only had one outfit to pack.

When I took my camera outside to play a game with the children, one of the children did not ask if we were doing it for the blog.

If you are curious about homeschooling or how we manage our large family, you can click any of the category words in the sidebar to see more. Some of our most popular posts are The Schedule and Daily Chores.

For more "Not Me! Monday" fun, visit MckMama on her blog.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Afternoon Activities

My goal is to have a tea party with my girls twice a month. It provides a special opportunity to talk, laugh, and let them practice being ladies. They often take the opportunity to make something special, dress up, or creatively decorate the table.These are pictures of what my girls call a "first class" tea party complete with written invitations, handcrafted place mats, and freshly picked flowers. This particular party was planned and prepared by Amber.

Often our tea party will consist of nothing more than making tea, using some pretty dishes, and having cheese, crackers and fruit for lunch. We don't always dress up, but we always sit down together, without the boys, and take a little extra time over lunch.

We usually pack the boys a sack lunch and they head outdoors to do battle. On this day it was raining, so they had their sack lunch in the family room and worked on their own project.
I couldn't resist this picture of Savannah with one of the flowers that are currently blooming in our backyard. Does anyone know what these are?
The food may sometimes be simple, but the company is always unsurpassed!

While the girls were busy with their tea party and the boys were exiled to the family room, they entertained themselves by creating a diorama. Using one of my cookie sheets, organic materials from the back yard, and some other odds and ends, they created this:

Of course Nicholas had to help.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sewing Help

I know you see it coming.

I told you my children love helping. Look how proud he is!

I'm in the process of making my pre-fold diapers into fitted diapers. (I know you were wondering.) I'm using this free pattern.

Daily Bible Reading

Since the most important part of homeschooling, in our home is training our children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, one of their daily assignments, once they are able to read, is reading the Bible. The first year they read through the New Testament and each subsequent year they read through the whole Bible.

We have been asked why we make Bible reading an assignment. After all, the argument goes, we want our children to read the Bible because they want to know God, not merely because we require it. True, just as we wish for our children to brush their teeth in the morning because they desire to be clean and have good grooming habits. However, in our house we do not give our children the option of brushing their teeth, we require it and we trust that through the habit of brushing their teeth every single morning they will appreciate the benefits and acquire the habit.

So how do enable all of our children read the Bible daily?

  • We have time set aside first thing each morning for Bible reading.
  • We give each independent reader their own dated Bible reading schedule.
  • Mark and I also read from this schedule, so that all of us are reading the same passages. This works for us because we are able to ask our younger children questions about their reading, in order to see how much they are comprehending. We are also able to better field questions from the older children . All of us reading the same passages each day also encourages discussions between the children about topics or stories that they have read.
  • We like to pick schedules that have New and Old Testament readings each day. Our early readers just read the New Testament assignments, which are generally about 20-30 verses long and the older readers read the whole assignment.

Reading through the Bible each year has given our children more biblical fluency than I had hoped. It has equipped them to think more biblically because they know more of what the Bible says and has helped them to realize that the Bible speaks to all areas of life. It has also lead to several interesting conversations. After all the Bible is not exactly G rated.

There are many Bible reading schedules available online. I like this one. Another one that is already dated and goes through the Bible chronologically is here.

To see my other How We Do It posts click here or check out my other categories listed in the sidebar.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Know You Are a Large Family When...

there are too many children to play Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.

This post has moved to our new site. Click here if you want to read this post and here is a post titled Reasons We Have a Large Family.

Before the Beginning

I was home schooled as a child. That was back when people asked if homeschooling was legal, when mom didn't allow us to go outside until after the schools let out, and when our neighbors called CPS because they noticed that we weren't getting on the school bus. That was also back when many curriculum publishers did not sell books to homeschoolers and there certainly was not any curricula written or designed for homeschoolers. I was home schooled back in the dark ages of homeschooling.

God used the amazing experience of my mother being diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live at the age of 35, to push our family into homeschooling. My mom was thirty-five years old and pregnant with her fifth child. I was the oldest at eleven.

This post has moved to our new blog. Read the rest of Before the Beginning: Our journey to homeschool or go to the homepage of the new Raising Olives.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I had tried, on several occasions, to make whole wheat hamburger buns. My results were generally, flat and crumbly. Mark and the children gallantly ate them, but I have a kind family.

That was before this recipe. This was sent to me by a good friend from Florida and produces wonderful, company worthy hamburger buns every time, even when my easily distracted, second daughter makes them. They are super easy to make, look lovely, and taste amazing. You will never want to go back to those preservative filled store bought buns again. Unless of course you are going to be feeding several hundred people.

This recipe has moved to our new blog. Visit Homemade Hamburger Buns at our new site or visit our homepage for more money saving tips, recipes and ideas about raising a large family.

Wordless Wednesday - Jedi edition

When we put Colby to bed he did not have that light saber. It wasn't even in his room. I wonder what went on last night.

This is my contribution toWordless Wednesday.

How We Do It- Cloth Napkins

We use cloth napkins in our house or more accurately we use washcloths. This not only saves money, but is terrific for the many spills that occur during mealtimes with children. The wash cloths are fabulous for spills, major or minor, as well as for grimy faces and hands. One washcloth will clean the baby even after he has played in eaten his spaghetti. To avoid washing hundreds of napkins washcloths every day, each person has their own unique napkin ring. We made ours, but it would be fun to shop for a special napkin ring for each member of the family. When we finish a meal each person looks over their napkin and if it is clean they put it back in the napkin ring. Then they all go into a drawer until the next meal. After dinner each day all washcloths are put in the laundry keeping the amount of washcloths washed in a given day to a minimum.

Click here to view my other "How We Do It" posts.

This is part of Works For Me Wednesday. To see the other WFMW ideas for the week, just click the link.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jonathan Park-Vol 1- Free!

Yes, the full Volume 1 of Jonathan Park , that is 12 full episodes from Behemoth.com. Quick this will only last through Friday .

Jonathan Park Volumes are collections of fast paced, high action, old time radio adventures which include loads of creation facts. When I first heard about these I was a bit dubious, but our children love these stories. They are one of our children's favorite products from Vision Forum.

Each Jonathan Park Volume includes 4 Cd's and costs about $25 from Vision Forum, the download from Behemoth is usually $17.95, but just for the rest of the week it's FREE. Are you still here? Oh, you want to know how to get this amazing deal?

Go to Behemoth.com and create an account or sign into your already existing account. If you are creating a new account you will need to enter a credit card number, just like creating an iTunes account, but you won't be charged anything unless you make a purchase.

Once you have logged in follow these instructions:

  • Click on the cart link on the top right of the page.
  • On the cart page you will see a field labeled "Redeem a Coupon"
  • In this field type "jonathanpark" without the quotes
  • Enjoy the FREE downloads that will appear in your cart
My husband and I have learned a lot of creation vs. evolution arguments by listening to these programs, so even if you don't have kids... I mean it IS free!

Be sure to check the Behemoth.com homepage for their daily freebies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nick Can Clap

You may well ask, "What's the big deal, most 10 month olds can clap?" Well, Nicholas was injured when he was born. His upper right arm was broken, but more significantly his left arm sustained a brachial plexus injury or Erb's Palsy, it was paralyzed. He had some movement in his wrist and hand, but none in his shoulder or elbow.

Brachial plexus injuries are complex. When this injury occurs at birth it is complicated by the fact that the newborn's muscles grow and strengthen drastically in the first few months. So even if a baby regains all nerve function, they could still deal with muscle imbalances and bone problems.

That's your science lesson for the day. Now on to the amazing and wonderful blessing that God has given to us. NICHOLAS CAN CLAP! This is a huge deal for BPI kids. I won't bore you with more science, but this is a big step.
Yeah Nicholas! He also no longer needs therapy. So hopefully we can wave bye-bye to thinking about BPI for the time being. Wave bye-bye Nick, good job.
Just for the record, I believe that if my husband and I had had more information before Nicholas was born, his injury could have been avoided. If you have ever experienced a shoulder dystocia during delivery, please do some research on BPI before you have another baby and check with your OB or midwife about their experience with this complication.

Not Me Monday-The Sick Addition

Since the four youngest children have been sick this week, I have decided to do a themed version of "Not me!" Monday.

When one of the children gets ill in the middle of the night I do not gather all the soiled linens, clothes, and animals and throw them into the bathtub to deal with in the morning. That would be gross. I diligently rinse everything and start a load of laundry, so that I won't be behind in the morning.

This week when the rug fell victim to the illness in the middle of the night. I most certainly did not take it out to the rail of the deck, pour a couple of pitchers of hot water over the affected area and leave it to deal with later. It did not stay out on the deck for three days until my husband asked if it was part of our new deck decor, finally prompting me to clean it thoroughly. It is most certainly not STILL out there half covered with snow waiting for the temperatures to rise above freezing so that it will thaw out and then dry.

During the night that our two youngest boys (Colby-2 and Nicholas-10 months) were most actively sick, I did not let them share a puke bowl. They most certainly did not decide to use said bowl at the exact same time. When finished, Nicholas did not try to splash his hand in the contents. If he had tried, I, being much faster than a mere baby, would have stopped him before he was successful.

Our sick children have not been consuming ginger ale, blue Powerade, Jello, and Popsicles. What kind of mother would allow a sick child to ingest that much sugar and artificial junk? If that were happening my health conscience children would NOT be enjoying it. They would be asking for something with a little more nutritive value.

I have not been secretly relieved that for the past week I have only had to cook for 7-9 people rather than the usual 12. I would not rejoice even slightly at my own offspring's misfortune.

Head over to MckMama's site to join in the Not Me Monday fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pray for Gracie Jean

Gracie was born on March 20, 2008 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). She just underwent a heart transplant and they are having some trouble with her new heart. Please pray that her new heart will begin to function fully and for peace for her family. You can read her story and check for updates here.

In the Not-So-Still of the Night

Two year old Colby is sitting up in bed where he just got sick. He looks up from the mess as mom enters and says, "Mommy, Colby spilled."

Colby and Nicholas have succumbed. Want to read about the beginning of our recent illness? Click here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Home Management Part 2 - Daily Chores

Twelve people living, eating, and sleeping in one house necessitates a lot of time spent maintaining order and cleanliness. Homeschooling means that we are home making messes all day rather than heading off to school and work. It also entails a higher level of mess and clutter in the form of books and educational materials. So how do we keep order in our home? Everyone has their own responsibilities to help with our household chores.

Train your children to work.

1. Start young. Young children love to help mommy. Let them help you as you go about your work. If you have them with you while you are working think of ways that they can help. If you give them the opportunity, you will be surprised to see how helpful they will become and how much they will learn. Watching is learning at this stage.

As they become more capable, give them their own chores. This gives them a sense of pride in their accomplishment and allows them to feel that they are really helping mommy.

We use kid friendly cleaning products. White vinegar for disinfecting, baking soda for scouring, etc.

A 2 year old can:

  • Help load the washer and dryer.
  • Empty small trash cans.
  • Run simple errands like fetching the diapers and wipes.
  • Help add ingredients while you cook.
  • Sweep the floor using a small dust pan and brush.
  • Help dust.
  • Move things while you vacuum.
  • Put their own toys away.

A 3 year old can:

  • Empty the silverware from the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the babies high chair.
  • Make their own bed.
  • Help fold laundry.
  • Use a damp cloth to clean the bathroom counter and sinks, or the baseboards. A 3 year old LOVES to use a damp cloth.
  • Run errands.
  • Pick up a room.

A 4 year old can:

  • Fold and put away their own laundry.
  • Clear and wipe the table.
  • Empty a rack of the dishwasher depending on where your dishes are stored.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Wash some dishes and load a dishwasher.
  • Dust.

2. Give them real responsibilities.

At 4 years our children get "real chores". I view this as the real beginning of chore training. They are assigned an area of the house that they are responsible to tidy and clean. This allows them to take more responsibility and gives us the opportunity to train them to be diligent as they move through several different tasks. The area that we assign is well suited for training and includes tidying, wiping, dusting and sweeping for more practice. I list exactly what they need to do each day and then check when they are done.

Daddy gets more involved at this stage as he will frequently ask who is responsible for an area of the home and then will tell them how wonderful it is looking. Our children are so excited when daddy notices their area. There is certainly a sense of pride in a job well done and an area that is clean and tidy.

3. Set high standards.

Consider what constitutes a job well done for each child and write it out as concretely as you can. Then consistently check to make sure your child is meeting your standard. If not ask them to return to the area and correct what still needs work.

I like for our daily chores to take no longer than 30 minutes and we frequently use a timer to see who can make it within the time limit.

Assign chores.

1. Determine how you want to organize your chores. Do you want to organize your chores by task (i.e. child A vacuum and child B dusts)? We did this exclusively when we had all small children. Do you want to give each child an area of responsibility (i.e. child A cleans the living room and child B cleans the bathroom)? We use this system currently and love it!

2. Decide how much time you want to devote to chores each day. Decide if you want to have more than one assigned time. We have two different times during the day that we have chores assigned. See a simple version of our schedule.

3. List what needs to be done each day. Decide how much time each task should take.

4. Assign tasks to each child. I assign a chore to whomever is the youngest child that can safely complete it. This stretches those little ones and doesn't overburden the older ones.

  • This does mean more supervision and oversight on your part, as you train your children to work hard.
  • A benefit to this practice, that I am seeing now, is that it frees the older ones up to serve in areas that they are gifted or that they have a particular interest.

5. Clearly communicate each child's responsibilities to them. I like to have it written down, that way if when I forget I can just look at the list.

6. Check every chore, everyday. Well, only do this if you actually want the chores done well.

Have fun and work along side your children.

1. Change it up. When your children are generally diligent in their work, have fun with chore time.

  • Try team chores. Divide your home into two fairly equal (as far as chores) parts and then divide you and your children into two teams and let them race to get all the chores done. Let the little ones or the big ones be team captains.
  • Give them a day off of cleaning chores. We do this every weekend and occasionally during the week. Everything needs to be picked up, but nothing needs to be dusted, swept, wiped, etc.

2. Enjoy working with your children. Pick a day to work with each of your children on their task. In our house I have deep cleaning tasks in each of my children's areas, so on the day that I am working in their area, we enjoy special time working together.

All of my children enjoy helping me in the kitchen or doing outside tasks. I use this time to enjoy and talk with my children. Try to include your children in your life as much as possible, they love being with you, take advantage of that to learn their heart and their thoughts.

3. Have contests with prizes, or not. One of my favorite contests is the bedroom contest. We have two bedrooms for the children, the girls are in one and the boys in the other. Every morning I check the bedrooms to see who did a better job. I am picky, checking under the beds, in the closets, etc. The prize? During Christmas time the winning room got to display the table tree in their bedroom for the day. Currently they just get bragging rites. If both bedrooms are amazingly clean and they tie for at least 3 days during the week, we pick something extra special to do or eat on Family Fun Night (Friday). This happens more often than you suppose. Our children are very motivated by this game.

We have also had penny jars. Each child has a jar with their name on it and each day that they finish their chore on time and meet the standards we have set, they get a penny to put in their jar. When they get to a certain number of pennies they get a prize. We use a lot of special time rather than special things for prizes.

Chores do not have to be drudgery. A lot of it is in our attitude. This is one of the ways that we can serve Christ by serving our families.

If you would be interested in seeing our current chore list, please leave a comment to that effect.

To see How We Do It Part 1 - The Schedule click here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Seed Beaded Bobby Pins - tutorial

With seven girls in the house we fix a lot of hair and the newest rage in our home are these decorated bobby pins. They work great for all the girls big and little alike and are quite versatile. Amber is our resident artist and has come up with some lovely creations.

To decorate one basic bobby pin you will need:

  • A small (standard size) bobby pin

  • 25-28 seed beads

  • 18-20 inches of 28 gauge wire

  • fingernail clippers

1. Hold the bobby pin with the straight side up, opening toward your body. Place the center of the wire on top of the bobby pin near the bend and hold there with your thumb.

2. Grasp the wire to the right of the bobby pin and slide it through the rubber tips and up to the bend in the bobby pin. Continue to wrap up and over the bobby pin so that it ends up back on the right again.

3. Now repeat with the wire on the left side, pulling it through the rubber tips and tight up to the bend in the bobby pin up and over the top of the bobby pin so that it ends up back on the left.

4. Clip the ends of your wire so that they are even. (They should be 9-10" each.)

5. Thread a bead onto both wires and pull it up tightly to the bend in the bobby pin. Pull one wire to the right of the bobby pin and through the rubber tips. Pull the other wire to the left of the bobby pin and through the rubber tips. Be sure to pull the wire tightly against the bead to secure it. (You will be wrapping around the flat side only.)

6. Continue threading beads and wraping until you get to the rubber tip of the flat side of the bobby pin.

7. Wrap each wire around the bobby pin tightly several times to secure. Poke the ends of the wires back into the hole in the last bead to hide them. If your bead is too small to poke the wire ends through again, wrap the wire around the bobby pin between the last and next to last bead instead of at the end. It will keep the ends of the wire from poking you.

The varieties are endless. My favorites remain the dragonflies.

This is part of Show and Tell Friday .

Knoxville is Sick, Very Sick

Wednesday Sadie and Savannah were up all night with a stomach bug and Thursday they continued to be unable to keep anything down. Wondering about their hydration, I called our doctor around 3 that afternoon and he asked me to take them directly to Children's ER.

The waiting room at Children's was packed with coughing, sniffling, vomiting, sleeping, and screaming children. Evidently it was better than yesterday and the day before. Knoxville has been sick! Wait times to see the doctors have been running around 2-5 hours. The flu took out nearly our entire church a few weeks ago, with only a representative or two from some of the families making it to services. Of course, I don't know that first hand, our family was out sick.

After 6 hours in the ER, anti-vomiting medication, some Popsicles and Powerade, we were sent home and our girls are on their way to recovering. Yes, both were seriously dehydrated, but it is amazing how quickly the body can get back into balance if it is not continuing to loose nutrients.

There were a couple occurrences during our stay in the ER that made our time well worth it. Of course most importantly, I got to spend 6 hours snuggling and talking with just the two little girls; a rare event. Savannah can talk and it was fun to listen to her jabber about the current cartoon that was playing in the waiting room. The second was that when we got back to our private room, Cinderella was playing. Our two little girls are princess crazy remember? Yet, since we watch very little TV, they had never seen Cinderella. It was so much fun to watch them get excited about seeing the "real Cinderella" although they did wonder why she didn't wear a princess dress for the whole movie.

The doctor prophesied that our whole family will share this and, if we are anything like the rest of Knoxville, it will last every bit of 10 days. We are praying that the girls will be selfish with this one and keep it to themselves.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Other Olive

I have been remiss. I have been scolded. I am trying to make amends.

We are a family of 11 biologically, but currently we are a family of 12. We have a sweet, wonderful, brilliant, magnificent college student living with us. She just read the blog and casually mentioned that I had not mentioned her AT ALL on my WHOLE blog.

So this post is dedicated to Suzanne our resident college student. Suzanne just started her own blog so go visit her at The Other Olive and say hi, and then come back for many, many, many more comments, references and mentions of Suzanne.

Red Envelope Campaign: Abortion Awareness

This post has moved to our new site. Visit Red Envelope Campaign or our new homepage for more information.

The Tennessee Aquarium

On Monday, the children and I packed a lunch and headed down to the Tennessee Aquarium with another mom and her children. We had a great day with the children rapidly running from one exhibit to the other, pointing out interesting facts to whomever would listen, petting the stingrays and sturgeons, and building deeper friendships. Tisha and I enjoyed visiting and learned even more things that we have in common. We even have the same favorite fish. Uncanny. We did not lose any children, even temporarily and our nursing babies were happily content snuggled close to their moms all day.
Always a big hit is the butterfly garden. Holding butterflies and having them land in your hair or on your clothes is high adventure and the butterflies always seem to oblige.

The smaller children also discovered some type of ground birds hiding in the shrubs.
When we came to the petting tanks, Colby (2) mustered enough courage to try to touch a one of the sting rays, so as the largest ray in the tank swam over, he had his hand in the water. The ray did not content itself with a nice calm swim under Colby's hand but came right up the side of the tank as if to jump into Colby's arms, spraying and flapping water as he came. Mr. calm, cool, and very grown up Colby merely stepped back from the still flopping, splashing ray with his face and clothes dripping. He however, no longer had any desire to touch a stingray. Who knew that rays were such social creatures? While some of the children were fairly wet after petting the rays, technically no one fell all the way into the water.

We have an annual pass to the Tennessee Aquarium and it has been so much fun to visit. It is a great value for large families as the pass is about the same as general admission for a family of six. There are two buildings of exhibits. River Journey has fresh water fish from around the globe and Ocean Journey boasts penguins, and the butterfly garden in addition to their varied selection of salt water creatures.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Princess Cake

Savannah loves princesses, really loves princesses. For her birthday she has asked for a princess umbrella, princess binoculars, a princess CD player, well you get the idea. So for her birthday we decided to tackle a princess castle cake.

This post has moved to our new site. View princess cake or our new homepage.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's is for Families

Our family is a bit atypical in many ways and thus our celebration of Valentines. Our children LOVE traditions. If we did it that way last year, they will remind us and want to do it again. That is fine with me. It helps my brain to not have to think of new things all the time.

Every Valentines Day we have a big family dinner, well we do that most everyday, but the twist is that the boys in our family have fun together fixing a very special meal for the girls. The traditional meal is an appetizer of M &M's, main course of salad, potatoes with all the toppings, and steak. We usually have something special, like soda, to drink.

When dinner is ready the boys come escort the girls one by one into the dinning room, sometimes presenting them with a flower or treat, and seat them at the table. The boys also serve the meal and clean the dishes. Hopefully our sons are learning to be sweet, romantic husbands just like their dad.

This is a Valentines tradition that our whole family enjoys, boys and girls alike. We love having special times together as a family.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Home Management Part 1 - The Schedule

One of the most frequent questions or comments that we get when folks find out that we have 9 children is, "How do you do it?" My intent is to write about some of the methods and systems that we use to keep our large family organized and running smoothly.

I must say that for us, our schedule is invaluable. About 8 1/2 years ago our fourth child was born. I was at home with 4 children ages 3, 2, 14 months, and newborn and I was barely surviving. Then someone introduced me to the book Managers of Their Homes and my life changed. I went from wondering if I would be able to take a shower, to having time each day to sit and work on a fun project. The idea is to pray about what you want each person in your family to accomplish and then to schedule that into their day. Each person has a schedule, no matter how young.

We often don't stick strictly to our schedule, but we usually stick with same basic flow for our day. For example, we may not eat lunch at 12:00 per the schedule, but we will eat lunch after we finish our school and then play outside after lunchtime.

We have had the same basic schedule for over 8 years now. Generally our day looks like this:

  • Get up and read the Bible (for readers) or work on the catechism with daddy (for non-readers)
  • Get dressed, clean rooms, and before breakfast chores (empty the dishwasher, make breakfast, care for the animals, etc.)
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Family worship
  • Chores (the whole house gets cleaned during this time)
  • School
  • Lunch
  • Play
  • Nap for little kids / Music and reading time for bigger kids
  • Free time (sometimes I assign projects, sewing, art, cooking, carving, etc.)
  • Prepare for Dad to get home
  • Eat dinner
  • Family worship
  • Bedtime

With that skeleton in place, we simply add specifics in and figure out times for each child and mom to accomplish what needs to be done.

So how can you come up with a schedule that will work for your family? Before you start, pray that God will guide you through the process and that you will make wise decisions about how to spend your time. Think of the priorities and goals you have for your family, does the way you spend time reflect these? Then:

  1. Start a list of everything that you need to do each day and the amount of time that the activity should take. One of the main purposes of this step is to make sure that you are spending time on the activities that are most important to you and your husband. Make a list for each member of your family. (I don't schedule my husband.) My husband and I usually take several days to a week for this step and pray about everything that we add or eliminate.

  2. After you have your lists for each person, start putting the activities into the time slots in your day. Are there some activities that obviously will work well if they are done simultaneously? i.e. I always schedule a young child to read to me during one of the time periods that I'm nursing the baby. Do you like to clean your house in the morning or afternoon? What time will you get up in the morning? What should your small children be doing while you are busy with other things?

  3. As you are fitting the puzzle together think about things that you don't need to accomplish everyday and customize your days a bit. For example, we have had music lessons at various times during the last 8 years. Sometimes I have gotten rid of the afternoon free time and other times we have changed to a four-day school week.

  4. Try it out, slowly and then adjust and re-adjust. When we first started, we were doing excellent to stay on schedule until lunch time. Give yourself and your children a week or two before you start changing things too much. Then figure out what works and what doesn't and change things around.

Don't get discouraged. I think that going through the process of making a schedule is helpful even if you never stick with it. It gives you the opportunity to think about how you should spend your time and encourages you to prioritize and spend time on things that are most important.

I hope to post some hints that we have learned to come up with a workable schedule. If you have any questions that you would like to have answered, please feel free to use the comments section.

To see How We Do It Part 2- Daily Chores click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We are a homeschooling family of eleven who are in awe of God's abundant grace and enjoy each day of the life to which He has called us. A life full of late nights and early mornings, hugs and snuggles, and laughing around the table. A life full of more love than we ever could have imagined.

Here is a peek into our crazy, happy, blessed world.