Content Amidst the Chaos

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“Daddy” June 19, 2011

Filed under: Superman — jps23 @ 7:26 pm

I have a precious Dad.  He embraced fatherhood with loving arms and a sacrificial spirit.  He was a truck driver, which was something he always knew he wanted to do, and while that meant occasional lay-offs and less acknowledgement than a corporate job (by some people), I always admired the fact that my dad followed his heart and did something he loved.  Not to mention, it’s a pretty vital job, if you think about it.  Much of what you buy is shipped by a truck driver at some point.  When Ashley and I were little, we shared a shirt with a picture of a little girl sitting on a toy tractor trailer truck that said, “My Daddy’s a Truck-Drivin’ Man!”  I loved that shirt, and I would have worn it even today, if it still fit.  I share that so that his sacrifice makes sense.  He had to bid on shifts, and he always bid around our schedules.  When we were in high school, we were all three involved in some type of extra-curricular activities.  Actually, it started in junior high for Dale and middle school for Ashley and me.  He went to everything he possibly could attend.  Football games to watch our half-time shows, softball games, chorus and band concerts, and drama productions.  I will never forget Honor’s Night of my senior year.  I had received an invitation to attend, meaning I would be receiving an award of some sort.  Dad was sick, so I told him to just stay home and not bother coming, since it was probably just an English award or some other special recognition for good grades.  I was a decent student, making honor roll most of the time, but I was far from being the top of my class.  I graduated with some smart folks.  Low and behold, I was selected for a special scholarship that my high school offers.  Now, I had applied, but remember, I graduated with some really smart folks.  I never thought I’d get chosen for it.  I called Dad on the way home, and he was so disappointed to know that I had received the scholarship and that he wasn’t there to see it.  That’s just the kind of dad he was to us.  He would also leave us notes the night before a big day, like auditions for honor band and All-State, if he was going to be at work by the time we woke up the next morning.  I’ve even kept some of them.  I am so blessed to be able to call him “Daddy”.

So for me, when I envisioned being married one day, it was definitely going to be to a man who would be a good dad.  Now you can’t know this for sure ahead of time, but you can usually get a pretty good idea.  Adam and I began dating when I was 15 years old.  Now, we didn’t go on an “official” date until the weekend AFTER my 16th birthday.  That was a rule that my parents were sticking to, no matter how much they liked Adam!  However, he was already my boyfriend at that point.  I remember a very distinct conversation with him, while sitting on the steps between our high school and the neighboring middle school, where we both said we wanted a lot of kids one day.  Our magic number was four.  I guess you could say that we just took our magic numbers and added them together, since we currently have eight children!  Adam’s brother was almost eight years younger than him, making him 8 years old when Adam and I started dating (though he towers over BOTH of us, now), and he also had very young cousins.  I had seen him with kids and could tell that he loved them like I did.  I knew even then that he was going to be a great dad.

Not only was I right, but he has simply surpassed my expectations.  As we were sitting at Addison’s dance recital just last weekend, I noticed the way he would giggle at dances done by classes that didn’t even include our daughter.  I commented on it, and he said that it reminded him of when Addison was that small, which I even struggle to remember!  As I type, he is sitting on the couch with our newest addition, loving on him and giving him some extra attention.  He does so much for this family.  Aside from maintaining a full-time job which provides income and medical care for all of us, he also has picked up teaching a few classes at the college right down the street.  He comes home and willingly prepares dinner most nights (which was difficult for me to do when pregnant because of my extreme olfactory sensitivities), or if we don’t have a dinner plan already, he’ll pick up something on the way home.  He gives great credit to me in my daily tasks of caring for the kids and doing what little I can around the house and gives me a little break from those tasks on the weekends by taking on some of them himself.  His money that he earns is our money.  He does not feel the need to “get away” through other activities that do not include us.  As a matter of fact, I have struggled to get him to just take some time for himself so that he can exercise or work out.  He changes diapers, does bath time, and reads bedtime stories without complaint.  He has even put a pony tail or two in our girls’ hair!  He is simply an amazing father who enjoys being with his kids and taking care of this family.  Most importantly, he seeks to honor God in this role of being a daddy.  He wants to guide our kids with loving discipline.  He wants to help them understand the promises and the commands within the Word.  He also desires to be the right example to our boys AND our girls.  I am so blessed to be able to call him my husband, and equally grateful that my kids get to call him “Daddy”.


100 things June 6, 2011

Filed under: Superman — jps23 @ 10:30 pm

My friend Heidi just recently posted 100 things she loves about her husband, and they were so sweet, were I not in love with my own amazing husband, I just might have fallen in love with Scotty just reading her list.  She is truly blessed with an amazing husband, father to her kids, and man of God!  Those of you who know me now or knew me in high school know that I am equally blessed.  And if you know me from high school, you might just know Scotty and Heidi, since they are sweethearts from the same time and place that we are.  I think they even got married the same year we did!

My 100 reasons for loving MY man: (in no particular order, just as they come to mind)

  1. He has a realistic idea of what a woman’s body really looks like, and he loves mine just the way it is.  “What flabby belly?  Oh the one that is flabby because you bore my children?  Love it.”
  2. He hates to leave us each morning and is anxious to get home to us each night.
  3. He asked me to break up with my boyfriend while we were hanging out with friends at Starr Park in 1993 because he wanted to be my boyfriend.  Big move for him, since he was more of a shy kid.
  4. I love it when he says my name.
  5. He is so handsome to me.  Being drawn to the nerdy type paid off for me!
  6. He lets the kids help him build things.
  7. He will buy feminine products for me without blinking.
  8. He WANTED all of these babies, too.  As a matter of fact, he rallied for the last three!
  9. The only thing he loves more than the kids and me is God.
  10. He pays the bills and works hard, allowing me to stay home, but calls the money he earns “ours”.
  11. He acknowledges how hard my “job” is.
  12. He wants to homeschool our kids as much as I do, and he fights for it when I am tired and want to give up.
  13. He runs my baths when I ask him to, and sometimes when I don’t.
  14. He bathes the kids without complaint.
  15. He really makes an effort to make sure I have gas in both vans.  This was something my dad always did for my mom, and it was something I hoped to have done for me.
  16. He is brilliant!
  17. He has a beautiful voice and loves to sing.
  18. He loves to cook and is quite good at it.
  19. He gets up with the babies with me AND for me.
  20. He doesn’t play favorites with our kids.
  21. He says “I’m sorry” on the rare occasions it’s necessary.
  22. He is always ready for an adventure.
  23. He makes me laugh, a lot.
  24. He loves to learn new things.
  25. He loves my nuclear family like his own.
  26. He not only puts up with my craftiness and impulsiveness.  He loves that about me.
  27. He married me even though others said we were too young.
  28. He has a better eye for fashion than me, and he helps me out in that category.
  29. He NEVER complains about the mess in the house and values the time we spend with our kids more than he desires a pristine place to sit.  And he helps me manage it when he can.
  30. He knows how to do laundry and does it.
  31. He is patient.  V E R Y patient.
  32. He rarely meets someone who doesn’t like him.
  33. He is not an angry person.  He doesn’t ever lose his temper with me or the kids.
  34. He doesn’t mind the noise of children, ours or anyone else’s.
  35. He loves my nephews and nieces as fiercely as I do and calls them his.
  36. He respects others.
  37. He is a servant.
  38. He is compassionate.
  39. He is the kind of guy who sees something that needs to be done and does it.
  40. He’s athletic.  He only swam in high school, but he often says that if he had been more confident, he would have loved to have played basketball for a team.
  41. He can be REALLY romantic.
  42. He doesn’t give up on people.
  43. He loves to build things.
  44. He loves and serves my friends.
  45. He is not a judgmental person.
  46. He’s not afraid to point be back to reality when I need it (which is often), but he has a gentle way of doing it.
  47. We don’t argue much, but when we do, he doesn’t resort to name calling or harsh words.
  48. He admits mistakes.
  49. He celebrates others successes and victories.
  50. When we found out our first kid was a girl, he was thrilled.  With our second, who was a surprise, he reassured me that we would be fine.  When we were pregnant a third time and I thought he’d want a boy, he said, “I kinda like having girls.”  He’s such a great example of what to look for in a man for our girls.
  51. He was equally thrilled at having boys, but a little more nervous about being their example.  However, he is handling fatherhood to boys quite beautifully!
  52. He puts others before himself always.
  53. There isn’t anything around this house that he is unwilling to do.  He’s even tried to make a ponytail or two!
  54. He loves the outdoors.
  55. He led me to Georgia Southern University, where I met some amazing friends.
  56. He loves sports but not more than he loves time with us.
  57. He was my hero so many times when I forgot something I needed for a lesson plan.  He even dressed up as a lady bug for one of my literature classes in college!
  58. He’ll sleep on the couch just so he can be in the room with me when I am pregnant and sleeping in the recliner for comfort.  OR, he’ll move the recliner to the bedroom.
  59. He gives me space when I need it and avoids pushing my buttons.
  60. He gives me the final say on naming our babies.
  61. He will make and decorate a cake the night before a party when I am too tired from planning too much or procrastinating too much.
  62. He follows my lead on handling our kids’ special issues and respects my role as their mom and teacher.
  63. He braves restaurants and movie theaters with seven kids, when going out with three used to make him sweat!
  64. He lets me spend (too much) money on our family scrapbook.
  65. He is constantly seeking growth in his faith walk.
  66. He has stood up for me in situations where I needed someone to stand for me.
  67. He rubbed my feet on our wedding day without me even asking while we were sitting and waiting for our photographer to get something ready.  Thankfully, the photographer got a shot of it.
  68. He got up before sunrise five mornings a week to work at Chick-Fil-A to pay for my engagement ring, which he gave to me over pizza because I was so anxious and didn’t want to wait for him to plan and execute a proposal.
  69. Don’t laugh, but the boy looked GOOD in a band uniform!  I will never forget the butterflies in my stomach the first time I saw him after he left for college.  I went to see him at a marching competition where GSU did the exhibition, and he walked up in his uniform looking F-I-N-E, FINE!
  70. He looked even better in his swim team uniform.
  71. He understands women.
  72. He wore an Aladdin costume that I made for him in high school when we first got together, just to impress me.
  73. He was good at Chemistry, which gave me an excuse to invite him over in high school when I had a crush on him.  He was my tutor.  (I think I still got a C, but it wasn’t Chemistry that I was studying!)
  74. He knew my brother before he knew me and gave me a chance anyway.  (Just kidding, Dale!)  Dale told my mom that he thought I would marry Adam very early in our relationship.
  75. He’s got a protectiveness over my sister in him.  He doesn’t have a sister of his own.
  76. I love to watch him nap with our babies when they are newborns.
  77. He’s got nice shoulders.
  78. He was a great trumpet player back in the day.
  79. He is the reason I survived the emotional heartache of miscarriage.
  80. He grows his goatee for me because I like the way it looks and then shaves it for me because I don’t like the way it feels when I kiss him.
  81. He’s an amazing kisser!  Always has been.
  82. He’s the best listener, which I think is why people like him so much.
  83. He looks away from the t.v. when Victoria’s Secret commercials come on.
  84. He always asks me what I need.
  85. He doesn’t consider being home with his kids while I am away “babysitting”.
  86. He loves to read.
  87. He never, ever questions me when I say, “I need to leave the house for some quiet time tonight.”  He sends me on my way and doesn’t bug me about when I am coming back.
  88. He’s always liked my hair the way it was, never really showing a preference one way or the other.
  89. He gets me massages as a gift almost every pregnancy.
  90. He once surprised me for my birthday with an invitation he made himself to a night of celebrating me.  We went to see Josh Groban after eating at Veni, Vidi, Vici, and then spent the night in the Omni hotel overlooking Centennial Park.
  91. Our first Christmas as a couple in high school, his mom got me a cute little necklace.  He knew how much I loved the movie Aladdin and also bought me a musical genie that plays “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me”.  I still have it, though it has been broken a few times and no longer has the music box part of it.  That song choice couldn’t have been more right.
  92. I bought him a Superman shirt this year because to me, he makes Superman look weak.
  93. He will clip fingernails, change poops, and take out/put in the girls’ earrings.  He truly is an amazing daddy.
  94. He never forgets my birthday or our anniversary.
  95. As a matter of fact, mine and him mom’s birthdays are 10 days apart, the 2nd and the 12th, and he’s NEVER gotten them mixed up.
  96. He likes to play board games and card games, but isn’t that into video games.
  97. He’s a man of outstanding character and integrity.
  98. I like how he towers over my 5’3 frame with his 6′ frame.
  99. He can predict to the dollar what his total will be at the grocery store.  He did it to me on a recent trip to BJ’s when I didn’t even stick to the list.
  100. He loves me.

33 and 13 August 18, 2010

Filed under: Superman — jps23 @ 2:41 pm

I’ve always liked the number three.  I think it is mostly because I am one of three children in my immediate family.  So these two milestones that are upon our household are on my mind a little more than usual.  Which milestones, might you ask?  Well, 33 years ago today, my mother-in-law was about to embark on an experience that would change her life forever.  She was about to give birth to her first-born son.  Superman was also the first grandchild in the family on both sides, so a lot of lives were changed by his birth.  A child changes you.  Lots of people like to lie to themselves and say they are the same person they were before having kids.  Whatever.

The second milestone happened just days after that sweet little boy turned 20.  Thirteen years ago on the 23rd (there’s that three again), he took me as his bride.  I was 19 and 1/2.  Yes, we were crazy… in love.  And marriage is something else that changes you.  At least if you want it to last, it does.  This guy won me over at the ripe old age of 15 years old.  We were in band together, and we became really great friends and quickly developed a crush on each other.  I’m not good with dates, but one I do remember is November 1993.  It was the first time we held hands, at a marching band competition, nonetheless.  We sat on the steps between the high school and the middle school, talking about getting married and our “ideal” family (We planned four kids, three years apart, thank you very much.  I know God laughed at us that day).  And we have weathered quite a bit over the past thirteen years.  I love him more than I could have ever imagined.  Never have I thought that I made a mistake marrying my high school sweetheart, that I settled without knowing who or what was out there in this great big world.  I wake up every day grateful that God gave him to me, and that He equipped him to put up with me!  It hasn’t been perfect.  It’s been a learning experience, for sure.  But remember?  We like to learn.  We love each other desperately.  I want my daughters to marry a man just like him.  I want my sons to be men just like him.  And I want to be married to him for many, many years to come.


It keeps getting better June 29, 2010

Filed under: Our home,Superman — jps23 @ 9:17 am

We have a new visitor, and I’m not referring to the cranky neighbor.  We have a rat.  Unfortunately, our house sits just above a sewer drain.  In addition to that, we have a toilet in the basement bathroom, which needs a major renovation, which is empty.  No water, just dry.  It has become the entryway for this rodent to drop by.  How do I know?  I took a guess, and when Superman put a paint can on the lid of the toilet, the rat was unable to leave.  As a matter of fact, our roomie (the college student/friend that is living with us this summer) saw it roaming up and down the hall a few times last night while we were away.  We put out mouse traps, which was all I could find at Kroger.  It ate the peanut butter off and went on its merry way without setting off the trap.  So last night, we took a family trip to wally world at 10:30 at night to get some rat traps.  They had none, so we ended up getting sticky traps for rats instead.  Heavy duty is what the package said.  Nope.  It trapped the hair, but no rat.  So, Superman will be visiting Home Depot today to see if he can find the rat traps that we need to catch this pest.

UPDATE:  Of course, the situation changed before I got to finish the post, but it’s good news.  No luck with sticky traps, so SM brought home the “breathe-on-it-too-heavy-and-it-will-snap” trap.  Loaded it with peanut butter, which the little rodent ignored.  It decided to come back upstairs last night, which pissed off SM to no end!  I stick my head in Roomie’s room to get her flashlight, and she jumps up and grabs a shoe.  IT’S ON!!!!  They find it behind the fridge, block both sides, but it somehow gets past them and goes under the dishwasher.  In the meantime, Earnhart and Smiley wake up and are crying and needing me.  I hate when that happens, but I prefer it over rat-catching any day.  SM and Roomie spend about 30 minutes trying to coax it out from under the dishwasher.  They finally do and SM pins it down.  It squeals (ewww) and then without any idea how else they can kill it, SM resorts to stabbing it with a kitchen knife (which we promptly throw away, with the dead rat).  Disgusting, but at least it’s gone!  We’ll keep the mega-traps in case we have to do this again.  The funniest part to me was Roomie.  She was held hostage on the bed Sunday night by this thing roaming the hallway, but last night she was up and ready to hit it with a shoe!  I love that girl.


Four years ago… May 8, 2010

Filed under: S1,S4,Superman — jps23 @ 8:37 pm

I should be preparing for the dual birthday parties we are having tomorrow, but I’m so tired from working on that today that I thought I’d take a break and share a little story.  Picasso and Earnhart will be celebrating their birthdays simultaneously tomorrow, her 8th and his 4th.  I can’t believe our oldest is eight.  It is true.  It goes by way too fast.  Tipper looks just like she did as a baby, the first sibling of hers to strongly resemble her, so it’s kind of neat to look back at her by just looking in his face.  I’ll have to scan in some of her baby pics to show you sometime.  She looked a little something like this…

…only with longer lashes.  I can’t believe how much she has grown.  She is my precious first born, the one I learned how to do this job with, the one I let sleep with us in our bed too long, keep her paci until she was four, and threw the huge party with mulch ordered for the backyard, which she slept through.  She’s taught me so much about being a mom.  I just love her.

She picked the Target doll over the AG doll because it made more financial sense to her!

Our first son was born four years later, almost to the day.  His birthday is nine days after hers.  Only with him, we had a moment in time where we weren’t sure we’d be celebrating a fourth birthday, or a first for that matter.  When Earnhart was born, I was a pro.  We went to church just days after we came home from the hospital.  We visited a friend at a children’s hospital after she had major surgery.  We went to the zoo in an effort to make up for the last few weeks where I mothered mostly from the couch.  We were out there.  The girls were actually attending a preschool program at the local baptist church, so they could have brought the germs home, or it could have just been my carelessness.  Either way, Earnhart got sick.  I couldn’t keep him awake to nurse.  He slept all of the time, and when he was awake, he was very floppy and lethargic.  We had a meeting with a developmental pediatrician regarding some testing we had done with one of our girls, and she was very concerned when she saw him.  He was very yellow, and she was concerned about his jaundice levels.  She canceled our meeting and sent us to the hospital immediately.

At the ER, they took his vitals and weren’t happy with his pulse and oxygenation.  They admitted him and ran tests, and while he wasn’t having alarming results, the nurse kept saying that his tests weren’t matching what she was seeing.  That nurse was our angel.  She would not rely on what the machines were telling her.  The doctor decided to send us to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in order for Earnhart to have a spinal tap done.  The Children’s team from the ambulance came to load us up.  It was a huge rig.  Just before they put me in the front for the ride up, they warned me that they may have to intubate him if he stopped breathing.  I nodded my head and got in the front, just trying to process it all.  The driver shut the door and went to the back to assist them in loading the incubator that they had to put him in, and it hit me hard.  Intubate?  My baby could stop breathing?  Could my baby die?  The thought had NEVER crossed my mind, EVER.  I knew that babies have passed, but I had never consider that happening to one of my babies.  Superman had to go home and get some stuff for us and get the girls taken care of.  My parents couldn’t ride up with me.  I was alone, and I was terrified.  Then the strangest thing happened.  The driver hopped in the front of the rig, made sure I was buckled up, and took off with lights flashing and sirens blazing.  And he talked to me.  Not about the baby fighting for his life in the back, but just random stuff to keep my mind off of that very frightening situation.  And we were there in a blink, greeted by at least 12 people rushing to care for my son.  They talked me through every step and procedure, though I couldn’t tell you what any of those things were right now.  They did a spinal tap and sent cultures off.  He had meningitis, but you have to wait on the cultures for a few days before you know for certain if it is bacterial or viral.  Did I mention the sweet child was only 8 days old?  They put him on antibiotics to treat him just in case, and we were placed in the NICU, right in front of the nurse’s station.  He was put on monitors, under bilirubin lights, and under a warmer to raise his body temp.  He was also wrapped in several blankets and put on an IV to get his vitals to a safe place.  I was scared.  Terrified.  Oh, and I had three little girls at home who were just adjusting to having me back home with a new baby in tow, one of whom was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that we were still figuring out.  How was anyone going to be able to take care of them the way only I knew how to do?  They were too young to visit, and they had no understanding of what was going on.  The youngest were just shy of their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and the oldest had just turned four.  They needed their momma.

Sorry about the quality. It's a photo of a photo.

I went a couple of days without getting to hold him.

But I couldn’t leave my son.  I was the reason he was there, struggling, in the first place.  Or at least that is what I thought in my mind.  So I camped there in his room, watching nurse rotations and doctor’s rounds, waiting to hear what was going on, pumping so that I could supplement my breast milk with the formula he had to take because of his decreased weight from not eating much that week, and reading.  We got the cultures back and found out it was viral meningitis.  We were in the clear, sort of.  The urgency and edge-of-our-seats feeling had left the room, but you can still face complications with the viral, especially with such a young child.  I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I had become calm.  To some, I may have seemed like I wasn’t worried enough.  But I knew worry wouldn’t make him better.  Worry wouldn’t change our circumstances.  Worry wouldn’t reverse what had happened.  So instead, I prayed, and I had many prayers behind me through family, friends, and fellow church members.  Our parents visited daily, as did members or our church.  We were bathed in care and concern.  My sister-in-law helped out with the kids, and Superman spent some time going back and forth.  I was so grateful for the calm.  I was thankful for the nurses.  Even the lady that cleaned my room each day was heaven sent.  And I learned something.  I don’t have to do it all for my children.  I can’t do it all for my children.  My son needed those doctors and nurses to help him live.  I couldn’t do that for him.  He did need me there, which meant I couldn’t take care of the girls.  But you know what?  Someone else did the job and they survived.  And as you know from the fact that I am celebrating his birthday today, Earnhart survived.  I learned a valuable lesson those days I spent in the hospital.  God is in control of it all.  I can’t do it all, not without Him.  A lot of folks have some loud, obvious life changing moment that draws them closer to God.  He seems to be taking me on more of a path, with many events along the way that point to His power and might.  They aren’t always easy, but He’s always there.

Happy birthday to my very wild, fun, and rambunctious four year old son!  I’m so thankful for the gift of your life, no matter how loud you choose to live it!


I love learning! April 25, 2010

Filed under: family size,homeschooling,S3,Superman — jps23 @ 11:22 pm

Let it be said that I have NONE desire to go back to school (that is the way Mary Lou says “no” in reference to how much she has or doesn’t have of something in particular- I know it’s improper English, but hey, it’s cute).

Tipper and Mary Lou

That being said, I love learning.  I love to browse Barnes and Noble or for books on topics that hold my interest.  You’d think that with all the books I have on organizing, I’d be a pro and my house would always stay clean.  The problem is, no one else reads them!  But I digress…

The reason I share this with you is twofold.  Tonight, we started this amazing small group with some friends, Preacher and her hubby.  I never told her story (she is my kids’ minister at church, one of my dearest friends, and a 2010 graduate of our local college about to begin her seminary degree this summer), but part of it includes her finishing a degree she started 18 years ago at a Bible college in Arkansas.  Her father had heart problems that brought her back home and left her without a completed degree.  Fast forward to today, and she is completing that degree at the Bible college where Superman was just offered an opportunity to teach.  I must say that I think she is doing something now she might not have done before, and that God has her right where He wants her.  I can’t wait to see where He is taking her!  Anyhow, she has learned some amazing stuff in completing her degree, and fortunately, she shares a lot of it with me.  One of her professors has introduced her to the idea of forming very small groups called DNA groups, which refers to the fact that with Christ living in us, we carry His DNA.  It is also an acronym for something, but I don’t remember exactly what that is.  I know that ‘nurture’ is the N, though.  The idea is to meet with this really small group and, hold onto your hats, read the Bible.  That’s it.  No books.  No study guides.  No one’s interpretation of the Bible.  Just placing yourselves under scripture and discussing it.  You eventually break off and start new small groups, avoiding the possibility of getting too comfortable and allowing the chance to spread the DNA of Christ.  You assign a few chapters a week from a particular book in the Bible, chosen by your group, and you read it throughout the week in preparation for your discussion.  If all haven’t read, you just discuss but do not move forward until everyone is caught up.  Our group is made up of Preacher, her hubby, Superman, and me.  The best part is that our kids are just playing with each other while we study, and they see us in the Word together and know that it is important!  What an awesome thing for them to share and experience!  Picasso was even eavesdropping tonight because she was so curious as to what could be so interesting.  We are going to start with Matthew, and we’re reading chapters 1 through 4 for next week’s discussion.  Tonight, we just talked about the group approach and why it is a needed change.  We’ve gotten so product driven in Western churches that we are being pulled away from the scripture and the truths that they hold.  I am so excited to take such a simple approach to learning more about Jesus.

My other reason for visiting my love of learning involves homeschooling.  This year, we’ve participated in a homeschool co-op, which was really just a resting place for many of the local parents who were waiting on a charter school to open up in our area.  Needless to say, I’m not teaching homeschoolers at heart, and my girls aren’t being homeschooled because the goal of this co-op was really more about preparing these kids for a public-ed classroom.  Charter schools seem to be a great idea, but they are still public schools.  Now, before you take great offense at my “still public schools” statement, I don’t mean that in any ugly way.  That just isn’t the educational choice for our family.  So, my girls didn’t get the experience this year that they would have gotten at home, and while some aspects of this year were nice, it just wasn’t what it would have been at home.  If this year has done anything for Superman and me, it has affirmed our desires to homeschool our kids.  There are many reasons, which have been introduced on a small scale, but the whole shebang will have to come in another post.

My point…next weekend is homeschool convention weekend, and the bonus is that it is hosted merely 15 minutes away from our house!  The sitters are lined up, the registration has been submitted, and we are filling out our conference planning sheets.  I’m a little bit nervous because it is time to make some serious curriculum choices.  When we were just getting started, it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming because they are little, and well, the best curriculum for little ones involves lots of play.  Now we are at a point where the girls can read independently, which is super helpful, but we are also dealing with three totally different types of learners!  Mary Lou could do workbooks and worksheets, which I’m not a huge fan of, until her little heart is content.  She’s learned very well that way this year, however, this method is the farthest from the best option for the other two.  Cowgirl is very literal, which is very common with autistic children, and she gets bored out of her mind with worksheets.  She would probably do best with a lapbooking/notebooking approach, and even then, it will have to be done in small spurts.  She hates to write, and she lets that get in the way.  If she could dictate to me all day, there would be very little holding her back.  I have to figure out the balance in this.  Learning is the point, but eventually, the girl is going to have to write, so I’m still figuring out this plan.  She also loves nature.  She’s obsessed with animals.  She learns best in this environment, whose only connection to workbooks is that you have to chop down a tree to make a workbook.  Then there is Picasso, my sweet, dreamer child.  Art is her thing.  She’s also so introspective, always searching for meaning in EVERYTHING.  Learning with her is an adventure with few limitations, but a worksheet is the last place she cares to share those thoughts and observations.  I think notebooking is more up her alley, which is kind of a scrapbook of what you’ve learned, because it allows her to be artistic and creative.

Any way you describe them, the only word that works with all three is “different.”  Now, they all three love Jesus, so that’s a start.  All three of them can be flexible (some more than others, of course).  So, I know we’ll survive these differences.  I’m just nervous about honoring and addressing their differences while still being mindful to raise and train them to be well-rounded learners.  Oh, and did I mention that I have four, yes four, boys ages four and under to educate/entertain next year, as well?  I know, I know.  I don’t have to keep them home, and some of you are thinking that if I choose to, I have no right to complain about how hard or tricky it may be to do it all.  I’m just sticking my tongue out at you right now.  Yeah, this is going to be hard, but God wants us to do hard things.  We are never promised an easy, cushy ride.  And if you think that’s hard, examine how hard it is to un-teach certain words and actions picked up from other kids at preschool.  Think about how hard it is to get a sick one to the doctor while keeping the other six from catching what the sick one has.  That puts a large family out of public life for at least two weeks!  Am I complaining?  No, just stating facts.  However, if I wanted to complain, it’s my bloggy and I’ll cry if I want to!  I try not to, as my blog name is Content Amidst the Chaos for a reason.  Digressing again.  Ugh.

Only a portion of the massive exhibit hall

I am not complaining.  I am excited!  I can’t wait for conference this year.  I love the workshops with all the different speakers sharing their experience.  The exhibit hall can be overwhelming, but the great thing is that I don’t have to buy one thing (which is not what will happen, but at least I know that I don’t HAVE TO).  Even the stereotypical homeschool musical family group is a delight to see.  The diverse group of people that gather at the convention seeking the best educational options for their children are different indeed, but with one common goal and mission, causing you to care less that they are wearing a denim jumper made by their 9 yr old daughter and matching their six other daughters.  Endless chess games, overpriced food, the brand new RV parked in the exhibit hall that VERY FEW homeschool families can even afford, the nursing babies, and the smiling vendors.  Ah yeah, it’s conference time!


So you aren’t homeschooling anymore? February 23, 2010

Filed under: family size,Superman,The Siblings — jps23 @ 10:31 pm

As I type this, I am frustrated at the keys on my right hand sticking from the Coke that got spilled on my computer by my sweet little Smiley.  Of course, it was my drink, so it is truly my fault.  And, as I pop off the key covers to attempt to clean my keyboard and the backs of the keys, I misplaced my period key cover, so this post may be one big run on sentence!  Either that, or it will be posted with great impact and enthusiasm!  Or as a question?  Either way, we’ve got to figure out where that key cover is, unless of course I just use my ring finger to press down the little rubber circular thing that sits under the key.  Ah, not too bad.  It may just take me a tiny bit more time to post this since it takes me a little more than a split of a second to find the little spot as I type.

So, you aren’t homeschooling anymore?  A frequently asked question to us lately.  And the answer?  Yes and no.  Yes, we are still homeschooling, but not in the traditional way that most would envision.  To be quite honest, we don’t take a traditional approach to homeschooling anyway, and this set up is closer to traditional than anything I’ve ever done, or will do, in regards to homeschooling.  This year, we are participating in a homeschool co-op, sort of.  Our church started a preschool three years ago, and the first year of the preschool, I taught the three’s class, which was attended by my sweet Mary Lou.  I don’t remember the logic in deciding to teach with six kids of my own.  I think I remember hearing that they needed a teacher, and I do love to teach, and it was only two days a week.  I had the grandmothers help us take care of Picasso while I was teaching (since she was too old for the preschool), and everyone else was enrolled in either the preschool or the Mother’s Morning Out program.  It was fun, and the kids I taught were just precious.  But it was hard.  Earnhart, Smiley, and Dozer were little, and getting in and out of the building successfully required me bringing along the double stroller on a daily basis, plus whatever equipment or supplies I needed to teach my curious kids each day.  I was a sight, I’m sure.  We decided I wouldn’t return the next year, and I would just teach at home exclusively, especially since I would have two kids of age for homeschooling.

That year and the following one are a blur.  Maybe it was so many people in such a little house, maybe it was because of the financial crisis we found ourselves in, maybe it was the lack of contentment we were buried under.  Take your pick.  It was tough.  So, Superman and I started to brainstorm.  How could we increase our incoming funds to keep up with our outgoing?  How could we make a substantial dent in our mountain of debt (another story for another post, but it boils down to sheer stupidity)?  Where could I work and still take care of our six kids during the day?  How could he pick up a second job when his first one didn’t allow it?  And then I got wind of the fact that the preschool was starting a homeschool co-op class, and my director wanted me to come back and teach it.  Woo-hoo!  An answer to prayers!!!  I met with her and explained that I would need to be able to bring Picasso with me, and it was a done deal.  Just a few weeks later, we learned that my grandmother had agreed to let us rent her house (five minutes from church/school, as opposed to the 25 minutes we currently had to drive).  This gave us the financial confidence I needed to rent this house and run the risk of no tenant in our other house and having to pay two house payments.  What a sweet deal!  Just a few weeks after that, while preparing our “new” house for our move, we learned we were pregnant with Tipper.  It was a whirlwind.

We moved in Memorial Day weekend, and just three short weeks later, my grandmother suddenly passed away.  I found out that my due date was somewhere in December, which is great timing when you are a teacher.  Perfect timing would have been along with all the other late spring and early summer births of all the other children.  My director was understanding, as she is very business minded and doesn’t take anything too personally.  School year, let’s begin.

The girls now had an “official” first day of school.  They were making friends and learning new things.  But with new friends, we noticed a weakened dependence on each other.  We also noticed outright ill behavior with one another.  I can tell you, you will not be as quick to hurt the feelings of your primary playmates if you think you will be lonely without them.  However, if you have other friends to entertain you, then you suddenly don’t need want your sisters around anymore.  And man, has Earnhart picked up some interesting phrases and attitudes at school with other rambunctious three year olds!  Needless to say, it has been a strain on our family structure and relatability to be a part of this situation.  On top of this, my class isn’t a true co-op.  It isn’t a bunch of parents with a heart for homeschooling looking for enrichment for their kids.  It’s a group of parents waiting on a charter to pass in this area so they have better options in public education.  So, they needed a way to keep their kids at our preschool for their kindergarten and first grade years while they wait on the charter to pass.  Let’s have a class for them four days a week, covering all subject matter plus art, music, and spanish, and call it a homeschool co-op.  I want to teach with a more relaxed approach, as I do homeschooling, and I have parents asking for more reading assignments and homework.  It just isn’t exactly what I had in mind.  Add to that packing seven lunches four days a week (7 x 4 = 28), picking out clothes and socks for everyone each day (7 outfits + 14 socks x 4 = a whole lot of clothes!), getting all of us out of bed, dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and into car seats by 8:15, and it just doesn’t work.  Now, I know what some people would say (none of you, of course).  (1)”Don’t have that many kids if you don’t want to do that work!”  OR  (2)”Would they stay in pajamas all day if you were home?  Would you not dress them every day?”  Well, to that I say (1) I never intended to send them to school.  We’ve had a heart for homeschooling since we first discussed having children, and especially so since we’ve had seven of them!  and (2) Sometimes.  Sometimes they would stay in pajamas, for a little bit.  Yes, they would get dressed, but more likely in a costume of some sort.  Dressing is overrated!  It’s just a lot.  So we’re doing the best we can to get through this year, and then next year we will be home again, hopefully for good.  Not just because doing it the other way was so hard, but because we have a heart for homeschooling.  I could list all the reasons why, but for the sake of your eyes, I’ll save that for another post.  Reading much more than this will wear you out.

So now you see why we are, but are not, homeschooling right now.  The school is great,  my coworkers are wonderful, and our kids have had fun, but it just isn’t our thing.  Home is great, my coworker is my best friend and my love, and our kids have fun.  It will be nice to get back to “normal” next year.

By the way, we are ALWAYS homeschooling around here.  Every chance we get, we jump on learning opportunities, whether they involve setting the table, doing yard work, making dinner, etc.  Homeschooling is not always creating school at home, but I’ll share more on that in that other post.