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Old Fashioned

I think I was around nine or ten years old, the first time I remember one of my Grandmothers calling me a “little Grandma” and an “old lady”. I have always been a bit too old fashioned for our times. Now, thanks to hipsters many of the things I have always loved are cool again. You can find countless hipsters wearing aprons, knitting, sewing their own clothes and espousing love for the “golden oldies”. All things I have loved since I was a child. I remember countless evenings spent watching “I Love Lucy” and thinking that Lucy was exactly who I wanted to grow up to be .

I have been feeling a little lost lately and I realized it was all stemming from this (mean) voice in my head telling me that it wasn’t enough to be a wife and mother,  even though it was all I ever dreamed of being. I realized an easy solution to feeling so lost and a good way to shush that voice was to just lean into it, lean into being a housewife and a mother, lean in to my old fashioned dreams and ideals.

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This brought me to looking up lots of different things about the quintessential 1950’s housewife. I then stumbled on Jen But Never Jenn’s 50’s Housewife Experiement and I was intrigued. I loved the idea, so much fun and right in my wheelhouse. I excitedly told Tyler all about it and he looked at me like I had lost my mind, he has never gotten my love of the old days and he thinks me trying to live up to the expectations of a 50’s housewife is “Unnecessary”.  He is missing the fun, with his silly love of all things modern.

I have already started some of the aspects of the experiment as part of my leaning in process. I have been getting up earlier than the kids and my husband to get myself dressed (and I have been dressing up) for the day. Sometimes that means getting up at 4 am but by the time everyone else is getting up I am in the kitchen, dressed and apron on, ready to tackle the day. I cannot tell you the difference in my daily adventures and mood this one small change has made. Dressing up is always a mood lifter and being prepared to tackle the day before the kids are up makes me much less stressed. I have time in the morning to read some scripture, pray, collect myself and plan out the day.

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So far I am only adding in  a few parts of the experiment but I think I want to do the whole thing soon. Now I just need to find more 50’s inspire dresses. Now Jen goes as far as only serving meals common for the times and only uses the tools of the 1950’s housewife would have access too. I doubt I will be going that far, one I have too many children to take away the conveniences that save my sanity and my husband would absolutely hate the meals.

If anyone needs me I am going to be cleaning things, focusing on my family and leaning in some more. So far it has been great.

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Sundays have been such a challenge for us in the last few months. For a variety of reason, I have ended most Sundays in tears for one reason or another.

To begin with; Caleb has been really struggling with being at church. Something was setting our sensory boy off about church and he would spend 99% of our time there having a complete sensory meltdown in the halls- which often included lots of screaming, hitting, and flailing in my arms. Basically every Sunday Caleb and I both cried in the halls of church. Him because he was feeling overwhelmed by something he couldn’t communicate to me and me because I was feeling like a bad Mom because I couldn’t figure it out and because I felt alone there in that place trying to help our son. I felt like Sundays involved Caleb and I battling something I couldn’t see or feel so I didn’t know how to help him. We have involved all of Caleb’s therapist in trying to solve this puzzle. Caleb’s behavior was stumping us all and one of his therapist even came to church with me and the kids to try and figure it out.

Added to that dynamic is that I am still not a pro at going places with all five kids by myself. When people typically have kids they do it one at a time with at least a nine month period in between to help them adjust to each new addition- we went from zero to five in less than two years. No adjustment time and with the exception of Caleb and Baby Otter the kids came in multiples. We are coming up on a year of being a family with five children all four and under and I am really just starting to get my footing. So taking the kids to church by myself (because my husband does not attend) is very stressful for me. I would see other large families who had their children all sitting calmly, or at least calmer than one screaming in the halls and four other kids that still need some help, and I would feel like I must be doing something wrong. It seemed like it was just too hard. 

The final stress of our Sundays lately has been the insane number of things that has happened to our family in the last few months- multiple surgeries, injuries and kids who were sick for about two and half months straight. So we missed far more Sundays than I am ok with- so while I was trying to hold it all together in the middle of that storm if we missed church that week there were tears then too because I felt I was failing my kids.

It has been a crazy adventure lately. However, this last week was amazing. In speaking with Caleb’s therapists we decided that Caleb just cannot handle a three hour time at church right now. Not until he can communicate better and we can figure out what is setting him off or at least what helps make it better. We even figured out a way to make that work. Tyler will come with the kids and I to the first hour of church, the Sacrament meeting, and then he will take Caleb home while the other kids and I stay at church. Yay for a solution!

Unfortunately, Tyler had a medical procedure done Friday and was not up for coming this week. I decided to take the kids and leave after the first hour, when a dear friend volunteered to drive the big boys home allowing them to stay for Primary. I woke up with a different mind set than I had in the weeks prior. I was not filled with a sense of dread, instead I was confident that it would all go well. I knew that my kids would still not all sit calmly in a pew and I also knew that Caleb might have some moments he struggled but I was sure we could navigate it. The kids and I went to the Relief Society room so that the youngest three (2, 2 in 6 days, and 10 months) could move around a little more and not fuss because they felt stuck. Caleb does better there than he ever does in the chapel. Everything went great! I mean the younger kids were running around like little terrors but they were not crying and the big boys sat fairly quietly. I realized the key to a calmer Sunday is for me to keep things easier for Caleb by letting him leave after an hour and to realize a successful day at church for us will look different in reality right now than it did in my head. Managing realistic expectations and realizing success to us will look different than success to other families is the secret. I am so proud of all five of my little miracles.

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For more information about sensory processing disorders visit The Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support website. 

It’s Not The Coffee

Before I joined the LDS church I had a coffee problem, like I made a 12 cup pot of coffee for just me on a daily basis and frequented coffee shops on top of that. I was a coffee girl, just imagine a real life version of Lorelai Gilmore. About a year ago, right before I joined the church I gave up coffee to follow the Word of Wisdom. Suddenly, after a year of being coffee free I have been missing coffee, a lot. Why?

Today as I walked through Target I passed the Starbucks located in the front of the store and the familiar smell of a coffee shop filled my nose and at the same moment an epiphany hit me hard, stopping me in my tracks. It’s not about the coffee, not at all.

Life has been great, crazy, miraculous, and rough lately. In the last three years absolutely everything about our lives has changed. Three years ago I would have described myself as a coffee addict, a neat freak of Monica Gellar proportions, an avid reader, someone who loved things like knitting, cross-stitch, hiking, antiques, etc. Three years ago we lived in West Virginia minutes away from my best friend and Tyler’s side of the family. Three years ago we also were not parents yet, we were aching for a child. Compare that to today and we live in Pennsylvania, about forty minutes from said best friend and family. Today we also are the parents of five children four and under. Additionally, and most importantly, if I had to describe myself today it would be as a stay at home mom and a wife and that’s about it. I no longer drink the coffee, I had (until recently) completely given up on trying to fight the mess created by so many young kids, I rarely have the brain power left at the end of the day to read, I still like knitting and cross-stich but needles and crafts don’t do well when combined with toddlers and babies, I have too many kiddos not walking to be able to hike and taking kids to an antique store is a recipe for disaster.

It is not about the coffee, it all comes down to the fact that all of these crazy, wonderful changes has resulted in me now having no clue who I am anymore. I am not sure who I am in this new life we have created. We moved to a new state changing a lot of things, we became parents to a large family overnight changing lots more, add in joining the church and there is almost nothing that has not changed. I try to take time for myself, I am not good at it but I try and when I do I try to do the things I used to do only that isn’t working. I am not the same person anymore and so much has been going on that I am not sure what this new person needs to do for relaxation. Typically, you became a parent when one baby comes into your home and you have a window of adjustment to try and figure out the balance of individual and mom. We added five kids at once and the chaos meant I looked up one day, today, and realized I have no clue who I am?

Now I need to figure out who this new chick is. How do you figure yourself out?

A Hug, A Tickle, and A Kiss

As another Christmas draws to a close and I put our big boys to bed and answered their calls for their nightly “hug, a tickle and a kiss” I find myself reflecting on this last year. Shooo 2015 has been a dozy of a year with countless ups and downs. I don’t even know how to express my thoughts on everything that has happened, so I think a list is the best way to get a full picture of what this year has brought; the good, the bad, the crazy and all that was in between.

In January of 2015 we were still in the middle of an often crazy case with three of our miracles and we had no idea if we would be able to adopt them or not. At the end of the month there was the last dramatic twist in the case and we knew we would officially be able to adopt them. The hearing that made this news legally official would occur in May. Allowing us to officially adopt Damien, Perry and Alize in August!! These children are such beautiful blessings in our lives and we are so thankful for chance to love them and watch them grow and shine.

In February I began to meet with Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (You can read about how and why I was meeting with them here). I am still in awe of the amazing blessings that came directly related to us welcoming those young men into our home. We had a few different Elders in and out but Elder Tengberg and Elder Woodbury have made an indelible mark on our family and our lives. I cannot now imagine life without the gospel, the church, or our “guys” as the kids call them. There are no words to express how amazing it is to have the fullness of the gospel. There are also no words I could use to appropriately convey the peace and happiness I have found since I was baptized into the church in April.

During this time we also met a young woman named Sarah (Sarsha) Irvin. Sarah changed our lives. The Elders brought Sarah to our home to join them in teaching me a lesson and I had no idea the influence she would end up having in our lives. We just adore our dear Sarsha. The Elders taught us the doctrines of the church and were such a huge influence but Sarsha walked in with her sass and her heart bursting with love and showed us a great example of what living in the gospel looked like. Sarsha will forever be a part of our family and our hearts. She was right by our sides for most of this year’s adventures until she left to serve her own mission with the church in Arizona.

March brought in many changes as well. In early March we had a miscarriage, this was our sixth miscarriage since we began trying to build our family in 2010. I wish I could say that it gets easier to lose a baby to miscarriage but every loss is heart wrenching. During this time we also had many medical scares with our youngest son, Baby Otter and we spent a lot of time racing to the hospital. In odd timing we would welcome our fifth son, Baby Otter, in a matter of two weeks from the loss of our pregnancy. I was so blessed to be present at his birth and witness the miracle of life being born. I am very grateful for that opportunity and we are so thrilled to have this bundle of joy as an addition to our family. We have since moved to the point in his case that we know we will be able to complete his adoption in the first half of 2016.

As a general note about this time, we were also doing multiple therapies a week for a few of the kiddos to include PT, OT, DT and Speech. The kids were all working so hard to overcome some challenges they were facing and these therapies and the work we did with them outside of their sessions consumed a lot of our time. We also found and hired our current Nanny, Kaitlyn, during this time and that made a huge difference in the insanity of the week. Kaitlyn does a great job with our children and she loves our children so deeply. It is beautiful.

One week after we hired Kaitlyn my Uncle passed away in Michigan and Kaitlyn agreed to make the trip with the kids and I so we could attend the funeral. This was our first long trip with all five children and it was quite an adventure. I am so glad we were able to get there for the funeral though and spend time with family.

This summer we also lost my Aunt in Tennessee and I made the trip down there for her funeral and to spend time remembering her with family and loved ones. During this visit I got the chance to see family that is near and dear to my heart, including my dear cousin Abby. You can read about my special bond with Abby here. This quick turn around trip to Tennessee was wonderful and hard in equal measures.

This summer also brought a big scare to our family. I was having some strange things occurring with my body and ended up consulting with my OBGYN. My symptoms concerned my doctor and she told me that she was worried I had developed endometrial cancer. Obviously, this was very scary news for our family, we have five young children and I was so worried about the possibilities we were facing. My doctor ordered a number of tests and we had a two week period of time while I underwent the tests and awaited news of the results. Thankfully those results all came back with no signs of cancer and with some medication my symptoms were managed. Hearing the word “cancer” come our of your doctors mouth when you are a young mother to many young children is incredibly terrifying and it took me a while to shake that feeling.

This fall brought about the adoptions of three kiddos and the celebration of the four adoptions we have completed in the last year. We also had one kiddo, Perry, graduate from all three of his therapies. He made TREMENDOUS strides this year and I am amazed by the progress he and his siblings have made every day. At the same time we went from one to four therapies for Caleb. As Caleb has aged he has encountered some new challenges and he is working so hard to overcome them all. He makes strides every day, some days they are huge achievements such as saying a new word and some days it is as small as maintaining prolonged eye contact. Damien started attending preschool at Head Start and it was a complete fiasco. The program he attended was not at all willing to meet his needs and made it very clear that they did not understand the effect of trauma on young children. We returned Damien to his small and specialized preschool and he has been thriving ever since. We also field a complaint at a state and federal level concerning the location Damien attended and that sparked an investigation. During this time we attempted to put Perry, Caleb and Alize in a developmental playgroup. Caleb really struggled with the playgroup and despite being a group that was supposed to be geared for children like Caleb, the group was unable to help Caleb. Additionally, the play group had policies in place that I felt were detrimental to our children and we decided after trying to work the issue out with the staff to pull the children from the program. The children have since thrived in the ways we were hoping the playgroup would help them with and we think we made the right decision.

Winter arrived with new adventures for our family as well. I injured my knee to the point that the doctor was concerned I would need knee surgery, I was on crutches for a week and I am still in recovery. I had an MRI and it turns out I did not need surgery but that my knee would take approximately six weeks to heal on it’s own. Our poor kiddos have been in a phase of life where they are strengthening their little immune systems and have been catching every bug that passes them by, I have lost count of how may times they have all been sick in the last two months alone. This combination of events has resulted in weeks of time where we are missing functions, appointments and, most importantly to me, church. This is hard for a variety of reasons. We miss the time with our ward family worshiping. Caleb really struggles with going church and because he does not have the ability to tell me what is upsetting him, his only means of communicating that is to have a melt down. So, missing church for several weeks makes returning all the harder on him. We spend the majority of our time in the hallways while he has a melt down of sometimes epic proportions. It is something we work on every week and I pray daily that it gets easier for Caleb or that I am able to figure out why this particular part of our week is so hard for him so I can help come up with a solution.

Earlier this week we had to make the heart breaking decision to put our dog, Lolli, to sleep. Lolli was eleven years old and I had her that entire time. She was a great dog and this was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but I know as sick as she was and as much pain as she was in that it was the right decision. Losing her the day before Christmas Eve was extra hard and we are still trying to come to terms with that fact. A day hasn’t gone by that I have not cried over her loss and been thankful for the time I had with her. Snuggling into her dark fur helped me through every cloud in life I have faced in the last 11 years and now I have to learn to cope without her there.

Like I said, 2015 has been one heck of a year. We have not had a chance to catch our breath in quite a while. There has been so much joy and much change this year. We are looking forward to 2016 and we are hoping for another year of joy and love and we would not mind if it was just a tad calmer. This year has also brought about great shifts in important relationships, some shifts were to better and closer relationships and some shifts were unfortunately in another direction. All of the adventures of this year have also lead to more self discovery than I have ever experienced in a years time before and I hope I can use that self awareness for good in the coming year.

Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year!!

In the last two years we have gone from zero to five kids and I have discovered some interesting differences in our lives during this transition. These are in no particular order, they are all equally true. 

1. “When are you buying a bigger house?” In our current culture it is so engrained in people that every child needs their own room and we all need multiple living spaces to spread out. We are completely  comfortable being in our “small” house and think room sharing will make our kids closer. Additionally, we want to be sure we don’t live beyond our means just for the sake of keeping up with the times. 

2. Leaving your house becomes like a long vacation- it happens rarely and you have to do a great deal of preparation.  You have to pack multiple bags to ensure you have cups, snacks, bottles, paci’s, diapers, wipes and the (inevitably needed) change of clothes for each child. After twenty minutes of prep and another twenty to get everyone in the car you are ready to run to the store for that one thing you forgot- don’t worry you will probably forget what you came for once there. 

3. The rare trips out of the house without children truly is a vacation and fills you will elation and guilt simultaneously. 

4. The stages most parents dread are a way of life for you- teething, potty training, terrible twos and trying threes are not stages in your house because you have children in each stage on a continual basis. 

5. “Are you guys done yet?” Maybe. Maybe not. Every family is different and the right amount of children is also different for every family. 

6. “How do you do it?” This usually quickly follows #5. Honestly, some days we don’t know either. We have what may appear to be a somewhat rigid structure to our days and routines- sometimes the routine works and sometimes it doesn’t and life is a crazy circus. We are just hanging on tight and trying to enjoy the ride. Similar variations include; “You sure have your hands full” and “They aren’t all yours are they?”

7. “Listen Dam-Per-Cal- ALIZÉ” don’t feel bad when you mix up our children’s names- we do it at least four times a day ourselves. 

8. Diaper changing takes up a significant portion of your day. When everyone is potty trained you know you will get back close to three hours a day. 

9. Going to the store for milk looks like you are preparing for the apocalypse. “Wow, you guys sure are buying a lot of milk.” The young cashiers inevitably comment and then spend the remainder of your order in shocked silence when you tell them why you buy so much milk. 

10.Oh,the papers. In general children being a lot of paperwork but when you adopt your children from foster care paperwork begins to form mini skyscrapers in your house. 

11. Finding a sitter who can handle it all is akin to finding the lost treasure of The Templars. It’s a lot to handle as a babysitter or nanny and we get that but we all need the ability to call in help at one time or another. When you do find one that works you want to clone her to ensure you’re covered as the kid’s grow up. 

12. Yoga pants. Yoga pants for life. Yoga pants are comfortable and allow you a complete range of motion as you chase your children. Additionally, it is hard to convince yourself to dress up when you know five different bodily fluids will be covering your clothing before 9am. 

13. People are leery of inviting your family over and will sometimes extend invitations only to a subset of the family because the numbers overwhelm them. Side note, if only some of us are invited none of us will be coming- that’s only fair to our kiddos. 

14. Birthdays seem to happen every time you turn around. You are sending out so many party invites you feel like you should open your own postal branch. 

15. Christmas is an epically large event and the idea of everyone opening their gifts in turns so everyone can see what each other received is a thing of the past. There is a wrapping paper explosion that will take hours upon hours to clean up. 

16. That new little SUV that just came out is cute as can be but there is no way your family will fit in there. You need room for five car seats and the many bags discussed in #2, say hello to the passenger van. 

17. You look longingly at families with teenagers. Sure those teens may not want to help but a teenager could hold a baby, change a diaper, make a bottle or run a bath if needed. 

18. Bath nights are special days of the week. It turns into a wet, slippery assembly line of kids racing each other for the tub, splashing each other in the eyes and then screaming because they don’t want to get out. 

19. Toys. Oh the toys. We could open an independent toy store using the toys in our basement alone. 

20. Laundry never ever ends. A normal sized load of their little clothes turns into folding for 45 minutes and another hour of trying to stop the kids from running off with the clothes while you try to put them away. 

21. If you watch Rio one more time you will certainly start sprouting blue feathers. Each kid has the one movie they always want to watch and those five movies are painfully familiar now. 

22. Making dinner is a balance of early prep, cooking with children trying to climb your legs and attempting to make real meals whenever possible while accepting that sometimes dinner will be hot dogs and Mac & Cheese. 

23. At least once a day over half your children will be having a complete meltdown because they all desperately need your undivided attention at the exact same second to vital things like the fact that their dinosaur they threw over the baby gate hasn’t climbed back over on it’s own yet or because their blanket is stuck on the corner. 

24. Sippy cups can be found in every nook and cranny of your cupboards not to mentioned hiding under the couch and tucked into the toy box. 

25. Given the daily circus some would want to run away but you would not trade a single tantrum throwing, baby puff eating, spilled cup cleaning, sleepless, hectic second. 

“He came to save us” our four year old Damien said with a smile on his face and a light in his eye. I nearly fell over and had to take a few deep breaths so I didn’t start sobbing in the middle of our Family Home Evening.

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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints practice something called Family Home Evening (FHE) once a week. Family Home Evening is a time to grow and deepen our bonds as we study the gospel together. This practice of studying the gospel as a family has gone on since the dawn of time. However, in 1915 church leadership encouraged families to have one night a week devoted to studying as a family.

Family Home Evenings can be such spiritual and uplifting times, and with five children four and under they can also be a three ring circus. With children crying because their play time was interrupted and babies wanting to eat or sleep added to the moth like attention span of children this young I occasionally have asked myself why we bother trying to teach them anything.

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Tonight for FHE we decided to talk about the birth of Jesus Christ and the true meaning of Christmas with the kids. After our opening prayer and song we read from Scripture about the night our Savior was born. We then watched a Veggie Tales clip from YouTube that showed the story briefly to engage the kids with characters they were already familiar with. To finish up before we lost our short hold on their attention we watched the breathtaking video of The PianoGuys’ “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. The video is beautiful and at one point shows Mary holding a newborn baby Jesus, I said to the kids “Look, there is baby Jesus” and that is when Damien showed me exactly why we wrestle the kids into focusing on the gospel every week when he said joyfully, “He came to save us”. It was a simple statement and one I could tell he was proud he knew and understood.

When Damien, Perry and Alize joined our family last year they had no experience going to church or knowledge of the gospel. We were kind of generic Christian attending a Methodist Church when the kids came home and since then we have found our way to the fullness of the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we are growing alongside our children in our knowledge of the gospel. It is so important to us that the kids grow their testimony’s and this was a huge milestone moment for us all. They really are listening, even when they seem to be doing everything but listening.

Damien could sense how proud we were of him and when it came time for our closing prayer Damien was bouncing in his seat waving his arms asking if he could say it. I leave you tonight with the sweet prayer of our four year old:

“Heavenly (Heably) Father, Thank you the baby Jesus and Christmas. In the name Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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From all my reading on the subject of homeschooling I find relief in the knowledge that I am not the only Mom who has felt a bit like I am riding a merry-go-round in my head on the subject. I find myself literally mid thought changing my mind on the subject and the closer we get to our oldest being of age to start Kindergarten the more frantically the merry-go-round seems to spin.

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To homeschool or not is a thought that dominates my mind lately, no matter how many times I remind myself that the decision doesn’t have to be set in stone I still feel like this is the pivotal moment for the decision to be made. Damien currently attends a specialized Preschool where he receives the extra support he needs to succeed. He loves his school, loves going and his teacher is phenomenal. If this had been our only experience with preschools I would feel fairly confident (despite my original plans to homeschool) sending him off to Kindergarten next fall, unfortunately this has not been the only experience we have been through. Damien was enrolled in his current preschool before we finalized his adoption and it was part of the local county supports he was involved with before joining our family. With the idea of kindergarten looming we decided it would be a good idea this past September to enroll him in Head Start so he could experience a more Kindergarten-like setting (his current preschool only has 6-8 kids in a class and is only two days a week). Head Start was complete disaster that ended in me pulling him from the program and filing both state and federal grievances that lead to an investigation. Without getting into the specifics of what happened at Head Start the situation involved many of my main concerns with public education; lack of trauma informed care, no acknowledgement of the student as an individual, rigid policy with no reason, etc. We returned Damien to his original preschool and things returned to normal and now next week we have a meeting about transitioning him to Kindergarten and I am so worried. I worry about a repeat of the Head Start debacle. I worry about class size. I worry about my son who struggles with transitions succeeding in a traditional public school setting. I worry he will lose some of the magic that makes him Damien as he conforms to the school norms. I worry about the focus being on standardized tests and not on creating a lifetime learner.

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I love the idea of homeschooling and I could write an endless list of the reasons to homeschool so in that way it seems like a no brainer and yet I still go back and forth. I am concerned about sending Damien or any of our other children to public school and I am also slightly (sometimes extremely) worried about my ability to successfully homeschool all five of our children and meet their various needs. When I imagine us five years down the road I can picture an amazing homeschooling rhythm and I have so many lesson ideas I cannot contain myself, however when I think of getting started with school next year I get so nervous and I feel frightfully unprepared to juggle my first year of homeschooling and four younger children at the same time. I worry about the logistics of getting them all to the various extra activities I want to involve them in if we homeschool to add more diverse experiences and socialization opportunities.

Round and round my thinking goes. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Does anyone have a magic ball that can give me the exact right answer or some assurance that if I decide to homeschool I won’t fail my kids? Of course I know what I need to do in this situation, as with any situation when I am stuck, I need to take it to the Lord in prayer.

I pray for clarity.

I pray for courage and strength.

I pray for wisdom.

I pray to be sure the decision we make honors Heavenly Father and ultimately helps our children grow closer to Him as they grow into the amazing young men and woman they are becoming.

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I have learned countless lessons from my children, at least once a day I find myself humbled and amazed by the knowledge small children seem to posses that we lose somewhere on the way to adulthood.

Today’s lesson came while taking our three year old son to buy “Big Boy Underwear” because he needs a jump start on potty training. Perry knows where to go potty and how, he can go by himself even…. but he doesn’t. This morning he was playing with a toy in the living when he suddenly turned around and started grunting. I asked what he was doing and he responded nonchalantly “Oh, I’m pooping”. I scooped him up and raced him to the potty, the whole way reminding him that he knows he should not poop in his pants and that he is a big boy. He was unruffled by the whole scene and once we got to the bathroom I asked him where he was supposed to poop and again he responded as if there were nothing amiss, “Poop goes in  the potty”. That was the moment I realized, he fully gets the concept, he is just choosing not to use the potty because he thinks going in his pull-up is easier. This discovery lead us to our post dinner Mommy-Son Target run for big boy underwear.

 

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We go to Target a lot, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that I love it, I think Target is a mini vacation.It is aisle upon aisle of books, home decor, cute clothes and of course the essential we need at a moments notice.  Target is a Mommy haven, it also happens to be less than two miles from our house. With five children I try to make sure we have time one on one as often possible and this was a great opportunity for some Perry and Mommy time.

From the minute we entered the store Perry was a ball of energy and excitement, I am sure to the casual observer it must have appeared that Perry had never been in a store before in his life. Every display, sign or person we walked past was gushed over with equal zeal.

“Wow, Mommy what is that?”

“Look at the dress”

“There is Christmas on the ceiling”

“Hi boy”

“Let’s go that way”

“Look over there Mommy”

On and on he went, I really do not think he stopped to breathe the whole time we were there. I could not get over his unadulterated joy at a quick trip to the store. We were about half way through when he looked up at me eyes filled with wonder and breathed “It’s amazing. I love you”.

I wondered as I watched my son delight in the magic of a Target run when I lost the ability to see the divine magic in the everyday? Where did I lose that wonder? Possibly more important than when or where I lost it is why did I lose it? I need to get it back regardless.

We are surrounded by amazing, wonder inducing, beautiful things every day and we can lose sight of this fact as adults. We are living in a world so diverse, complex and beautifully created that one could find no end of joy if we approached our daily tasks and errands with the same joy as a three year old. There is joy in that Target run, there is joy in the sink of dishes and the piles of laundry, there is joy in the errands and the work. Everywhere you go and in everything you do there is joy, the trick is to find it.

So stop, smell the roses…or if you are near a Target hit the candle aisle and delight in the joys of the seemingly mundane. Everything in the world was created for a purpose and our purpose here is to find happiness and joy while progressing, the joy is hiding in plain sight. There is no magic formula to find joy; we won’t find it once we get that promotion, buy that house, drop those pounds or find those riches. The magic is all around us and within us, we just have to tap into it and remember what it is like to be three.

I am eternally grateful I have five little miracles here to teach me these lessons and I hope I learn them well. I don’t want to miss out on the wonder of a single moment.

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Are You Done Now?

“You’re done now, right?”

Oh, the number of times we hear that question. Anyone who has more than one or two kids hears this question often, just as families with only one child are always asked if they are adding more children. 

Our answer always makes eyebrows raise and looks of astonishment appear. We “think” after five children all brought to us through the tragic miracle of adoption (in less than two years) that we are done adopting; however, we are not sure we are done having children. We have always believed that whoever was meant to be a part of our family would show up and we still believe that. We are not willing to close the door on having biological children. We have always known Heavenly Father would create our family in the way it was meant to be created and we do not feel that he is finished with that yet. Now, ideally I would hope we have a year or two before any more little cuties arrive but I also know Heavenly Father’s timing is always perfect.

So I think the question should be re-framed; is God done building our family? Who knows for sure, but I hope not. 

To answer some of the other oft asked questions: 

Are our hands full? Sometimes. 

Are our hearts? Always! Our hearts are bursting with all this love, but that’s the amazing thing about humans- we can ALWAYS love more. 

Are we saints? HA! Definitely not. We are simply blessed beyond belief to have all these amazing little souls as a part of our family. 

Are we nuts? Probably, but life is no fun if you play it safe. 

When our first child was oh, about four months old I decided I desperately wanted to homeschool. I had done my research and I was convinced this was the best approach to education for our family. I had my own educational background in a Special Education major and probably months of time spent researching homeschool vs. public school vs. private school (in case we won the lottery I suppose) all to back up that decision. Everything seemed great and I was confident I had time to research curriculum and co-ops to my hearts content before Caleb was old enough to begin school.

Then life happened. We went from one baby boy who had just turned one to five children. Now my oldest should be starting kindergarten in the fall of 2016. Shortly after our family grew so dramatically and I was juggling multiple therapies and case worker visits and an adjusting group of children who had all experienced a lot of trauma in their short years- I had a mommy melt down and decided there was no way I could homeschool. I couldn’t be enough Mom everywhere at one time to pull it off. I drove around in my car crying about it for awhile and just decided I just was not capable and should forget it.

Shockingly, this knee jerk, emotional decision has not been sitting well with me. If I was positive homeschooling was right before how could it be wrong now? I also have seen tremendous growth in my babies lately and I am realizing how short this time of survival mode living will be in the grande scheme of things. So where does that leave us? My oldest has started attending a traditional preschool and he loves it. I have no idea about curriculum or co-ops or homeschool groups and I have zero idea how I would start. To be honest I am not even sure which direction I think we should go in as a family. One thing I am sure of is that we need to pray about it and that soon we will be guided to the right path.

Homeschooling, can I? Yes. Will I? I’m still not sure.
P.S. I have been finding great comfort and encouragement in the homeschooling blog It’s A Good Full