Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Big Changes #6**Clutter Control

This was another step in our big changes.  I've mentioned small bits of it here and there already.  But seeing as how it was a much needed focus for our family I thought I would put the spot light on it.  Clutter is never a good thing.  It can be dangerous, wastes your time taking care of it, and devalues what you do have that is worth keeping. 

The dangerous one is easy to figure out.  I've been thinking we should have a fire escape plan, and was thinking how there would be no way we would get out of a fire in the middle of the night with all the clutter we had.  I mean, 7 children with toys, books, games, clothes, 'stuff'.  Enough said :-)  Before we touched anything we first made a plan.  I think you may be catching on to a growing theme...making plans!  How many pairs of pants does one child need?  How many shoes, how many toys, how many....?  It was obvious that we needed to get rid of a bunch of 'stuff'.  If for safety reasons alone.

But safety wasn't our only goal.  We were wasting a lot of time trying to manage all of our 'stuff'.  The girls room chores were taking longer and longer as the months went on.  We needed to pare back, then make a place for everything, and put everything in its place.  That meant a wee bit of rearranging.  It meant going through closets, under beds, on top of beds, in drawers, etc.  This was what I was doing in my Great Purge Expedition I wrote on a month or so ago.  It took longer than I anticipated.  Now that it is done I can see where we can make some improvements.  I personally would have liked to take all but the very essential furniture out of each room and then only add back in what we felt was really and truly necessary.  I could have done that if my kids were 1 and 3 years old.  It's a bit of a different story when they are 12 and 14 :-)  Bit by bit.  I am happy with the wave of purging we did accomplish and have resolved in my mind that we will have another round in the near future.

Along with the safety and time management issues of our clutter came the very reality that when kids have too many things they don't seem to really care about any of it.  I've read this many times in the past.  I loved a blog, no longer available, that talked about her family's journey to simplicity.  They really, really took a bunch of things away.  But the mom said that the more they had taken away the more her kids actually used and played with what they had left!  So very true. 

This is also an issue, the idea of simplicity, that is close to my heart.  It is always something I have wanted as a lifestyle.  I've written in the past about that desire, so I won't go too deep here.  Before I had children my desire for them was not to have many toys, but a few, well chosen *open ended* toys.  Less clutter, more imagination required.  I didn't want the blinking lights, and fancy sounding toys.  By taking things away my kids are now being more creative.  They are using their hands to make things, and using their minds to create.  They are playing and working together more.  Please do not read that as they actually get ALONG while doing things together...but they are together more often now :-)

Keeping control of our clutter has also helped us stay on target with our schooling.  None of us can think very well when we are surrounded by clutter (I'm speaking of my own family).  Not to mention it's a lot easier to want to go into the kitchen to whip up a recipe when the counters are cleared.  It's easier to lay out fabric on the floor to explore and create when you have open floor space available.  In short, having less has been our success to doing more.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Homestead give-away:

Hey everybody there's a free give-away at:

This place

Hope you all love it as much as we did!

Big Changes #5**Twaddle patrol

After outside activities it was time to examine our inside activities.  This too was difficult.  When I broke my knee this past summer, movies and computer games (Internet usage) increased exponentially!  Although I would say it wasn't out of control before the summer, it was certainly a big time waster. 


Movie time was supposed to be reserved for Friday nights.  But it is very, very, let me repeat....very clear that our family can not handle movie time.  It has always, always, always gotten out of control.  Always.  Being laid up over the summer just made things worse.  A lot worse.  It always starts the same way.  They are only watching 'godly movies', that then move on to morally acceptable movies, that then go to not blatantly sinful movies, to movies that are not in line with our family values. 

So the movies got pulled.  Netflix was cancelled.  The only movies that they can watch now are the homesteading movies.  We have some Christian movies, but I am not allowing those for now.  They were too much in the habit of shutting off their brains to be lulled by the pictures on the screen.  They didn't want to have to think.  I am very serious when I say it was painful for many days/weeks.  Literally painful.  Think about it.  They went from their brains passively taking in moving pictures and sound to having to physically move their bodies and actively thinking when it came to play time.  Ouch.  It was painful for me, in that there was a LOT of whining going on over here!  Let me repeat....lots-o-whining.  Thinking along the lines of addiction would do well here :-) 

Now we've done the movie pulling thing before in the past.  This time the difference is two fold.  Number one, I have been put in charge of all movie viewing.  This is good because I despise the waste of time that movies are.  So this works for our family.  Number two, we actually replaced movie time with other things.  In the past we would tell them they needed to find something else to do.  I can assure you that does not work.  You have to actively replace that time.  That does not mean you need to schedule their time or create all their play time, but it does mean you need to have a 'feast of ideas' set before them.  For us, this meant we bought their Christmas presents early.  We bought them a whole bunch of board games.  We also made sure we had a healthy supply of books.


Books are nothing new to our family.  We frequent the library often.  Very often!  But again, we needed to hold up those books and compare them to our family's goals.  Did the content fit our goals, our beliefs?  If not we needed to get rid of it.  After getting rid of the movies, we went through our bookshelves.  Not only were we rating a book compared to our convictions/morals/beliefs and goals, but also rating it against our educational philosophy.  We love Charlotte Mason's word for junk food books, 'twaddle'.  You know you have a problem with a book when your 14 year old will read 150+ pages *after* she's gone to bed.  There is obviously not a whole lot of thinking going on with that book!  Don't get me wrong, if you have a struggling reader you may want to slip in a few of the easier to digest books for free reading time, BUT it can all too easily become a crutch.  Just like movies were turning off their brains, having a comic book or other easy read does nothing to stretch those brain muscles.  Please don't misunderstand me, there isn't anything wrong with a silly book here or there, just like there isn't anything wrong with a piece of cake.  But at some point too much cake is a bad thing.

To help us curb our former library habits we had to change things up.  Our library has a website where we can go and reserve/put on hold any book in their system.  We designate the branch we will be picking it up from.  Then, when the book is ready, we get an email to say we can come pick up our book.  This has been such a huge help to curb the poor reading choices we were facing.  Every once in a while they are aloud to go look around the library when I have to go in, but I don't let them take any books out.  Or I have them put the books in a pile.  I then load everyone up in the van, I go back in the library by myself and sort through the books. 

This too was a hard transition.  I made up a list of acceptable books or types of books from the Ambleside lists.  I was starting to doubt if we were making the right move, but before too long they started picking up the good books and reading them.  And they have been pleasantly surprised at how good of a story it was :-)  It's taking a bit longer for one of my reluctant readers, but I know she will come around. 

Computer Time

This was hard on everyone, but especially Jedidiah.  Oh, talk about withdrawls!!  I thought he would never, never, NEVER get over it.  It was that bad!!  Every day, all day long he asked for his computer turn.  But now, two months later, it's not an issue.  The girls were, again at first, very upset to give up computer time.  They each had a Webkinz, and favorite horses on their favorite horse game site that they didn't want to see 'die'.  Well, it was either a slow death for their spiritual lives, and continued crumbling of our family or the death of a pretend virtual animal.  Hmmm, that one wasn't too hard to think about.  But making this a reality isn't as easy as it sounds.  Between the afore mentioned movie time, twaddle books and computer games my kids didn't know what to do with themselves half the time!  All these twaddle issues have the same root problem, and were remedied by the same solution.  Redirecting their focus, or as the Maxwell's would put it, creating new appetites.  This involved brain storming and really listening to what the girls interests are.  This also means possibly moving furniture around and making those new appetites the focus in our house.  For example, sewing is a big hit around here.  We would like to set up a table out in the family room for the girls to be able to sew throughout the day.  Moira expressed an interest in creating her own sewing patterns.  So we looked up some books on how to do that.  The girls have always been into arts and crafts.  That means we will be looking for ways to increase our art supplies and fabric and yarn supplies. 

We are two months into this and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see my children being productive, learning new skills and trying new things!!  Seriously.  Flannery has become chef extraordinaire over here.  She also took off with sewing.  Isabella has been sewing and crocheting up a storm.  Moira has made many paintings, crocheted items and made a recipe from a cookbook for the first time on her own the other day.  Saoirse is in the learning stages of all these things.  Basically trying out each thing in small snippets as her abilities allow.  The boys have been doing a ton of pretend play.  This is a newer skill for Jedidiah, and it's great to see how it's growing each week.  Lots more reading going on, with good books. 

There are still some days when I will hear, "I'm bored."  But that doesn't last long.  It took a while for them all to 'wake up' their brains and start using them :-)  It took sticking to our guns, going back to our goals and holding on with both hands!  It can get rough, but the results are sooooo worth the fight.  I dare say we are not done with the fight, but things are so much better now than they were.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Today we had church at home.  I'm still sick, as is Saoirse and seemingly Aubrey now (he just woke from a nap about an hour ago and hasn't stopped whining and crying.  Ugh.  So I decided to sit and polish up a few photos.  Some really odds and ends in the "stack".

One of the children's buckets left in the front yard.

The girls and boys have been gathering an assortment of goat treats from around the yard.

Jonah plucked this tid bit with scissors, all by himself :-)

Aubrey had just woken from a nap.  The whole time outside he was chewing on his left hand.  Very odd.

See?  Still chewing.  I have about 5 other pictures, taken at various time during our outside playtime with his hand in his mouth.

Attic 24 is our online source of crochet inspiration.  This little cover was made by Moira.

Saoirse is just starting to get the hang of the single crochet.  She rocks at making chains!  This is a bracelet she made for me.

Doesn't everyone take pictures of their glass jars?  No?  This is one of my shelves that hold most, but not all of my large glass jars.  We've been discussing buying more.  The debate was between a local source, which we can not find replacement caps for, or to go with getting an order for a box of Ball jars shipped to Ace Hardware.  All the wide mouth Ball jars have the same size lid, making lid replacement a snap.  Can you guess which we chose to do?

Another Isabella read.  This is the compilation of all the Tightwad Gazettes put in one book.  My daughters want us to buy it for them (the copy above is from the library).  I swear I'm not making this stuff up!!!  I feel blessed when I think how instead of ipods, cell phones or CD's being asked for my girls are asking for books like the one above, buying a jersey cow or obtaining free finds for fencing or a makeshift green house. 

Jed looking particularly cute today with this hat.

We have lots of rocks on our property.  We are finally putting some of them to good use.  See below...

Here they are neatly layed out for our garden border.  Moira dug up a bunch of brush, Jeremiah hacked up a bunch of the small bushes/trees, and all the kids helped carry rocks over to make the border.  Now we just need some soil and covering.  Oh, and some seeds :-)  This will be our herb garden.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Big Changes #4**Outside Activities

Along with our church change, this was the second biggest change we made.  By outside activities I mean things like sports, meetings and the like, not outside play time.  Jeremiah and the girls, minus Moira, were involved in soccer.  Between Jeremiah playing soccer on his own team, and him coaching two of the girls teams, soccer took up 5 days a week.  One of those days happened to be half of our Saturday.  That time on Saturday was just game and travel time, not the time it took for everyone to rest from all the activity.  That left our Saturdays totally unproductive. 

After we made a family goal plan we were able to talk with the girls about how our outside activities were not helping us to achieve our family goals.  Not only was soccer not helping to meet our goals, but it was hindering our goals.  We determined that we needed that Saturday time to work on our outside projects (animal care and gardening).  So, even though they only played half the year, we made the hard decision to pull them out of soccer.  Not only for the girls, but for Jeremiah as well.  Although there were tears shed, I think they got over it faster than I anticipated because we were not asking only them to give it up, but Daddy was giving it up as well.  They saw that the sacrifice was being made by all.

In soccer's place we were adding in the gardening and animal work, which the girls wanted to do.  We were also committed to adding in fellowship time with the saints.  This was definitely lacking in our lives.  We made sure to get that fellowship time up and running.  The girls are very much enjoying this fellowship time.  They are also enjoying all the planning and dreaming of making our slice of land as productive as it can be.  Just take a look at that picture of Isabella in my last post.  All the girls have been getting homesteading/gardening/animal care books out of the library.  Isabella, in particular, has been taking notes from them.  All on their own!  Isabella and Moira are also keeping a record book of everything we produce.  Currently that amounts to how many eggs a day we get.  When we start milking and gardening we will be weighing what we collect.  They keep notes off to the side about any supplements or changes we make.  This way we can look back and see what worked and what didn't.  They had seen this record keeping on a blog and they decided *on their own* to keep a record for our family. 

In the past we have made, or attempted to make, changes to our family.  But as the word 'to' implies, it wasn't a collaborative exercise.  It was forced.  As parents, that is sometimes what we are called to do, but when making changes it is never a good idea to just take things away without adding something in it's place.  It is also not a good idea to leave the rest of your crew upset about the changes, feeling helpless and a victim.  There is a balance to be had.  We didn't have that balance in the past, and that is why I feel our past changes did not last, or were not accepted.  This doesn't mean you have to have your children's permission to make changes, that is not what I am talking about.  But to make this work, they do need to 'get on board' with your new ideas.  For example, the girls were not happy about giving up soccer.  But they were excited about making our place into a small homestead.  When they saw that by giving up soccer we would have more time to make our place into that dreamed of homestead they were willing to let soccer go.  It was *very* important for us to make real, concrete plans for them to see we were serious about making the homestead one of our family goals.  We made sure to come to the pow-wow table with ideas before hand so that they knew we were already thinking of these things.  And we made sure to write down all their ideas and discuss ways in which we could implement them into a workable plan.  We then started to do simple things like go online in search of books to educate ourselves to make our dreams a reality. We also talked about what we needed to buy, and put a time table together of when we could obtain the needed items.  We are having the girls help us search for free items on freecycle and craigslist (with us watching over them).  We also ordered gardening catalogs to look over seeds and fruit trees/bushes. 

We talked about how we could save money to purchase the things we were going to need.  Again, by putting it in their hands, and giving them ideas as needed, they have come up with lots of ways to save money.  Not only that, but they want to do them, as they see we are being serious about our goals.  In the past, when we took things away (and they needed to be taken away), we either left a hole there, or gave a token idea of what we could/might/should/would put in it's place.  But then that was as far as we got.  Nothing ever materialized from those scattered thoughts.  This time we put it on paper, they see us rearranging our budget, they see us giving up things ourselves, and they see we are serious in wanting their ideas as well.  We are talking about these things almost daily.  We rearrange plans when needed.  We are working out times/schedules and the like to make the time available to reach our goals.  We are reading books and watching videos that all have to do with our goals.  And our children are, for the first time ever, EXCITED about what our family is doing.  It truly is a *FAMILY* affair.  It's not every man for himself, which was how we were living before. 

Now, before I sign off, lest you think we are perfect...we are NOT.  We are making mistakes, we fumble, we have to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.  Our children will try to read a homesteading book when they should be reading about Archimedes, or they are looking at the prices of Jersey cows when they should be doing their math :-)  The children have squabbled about who's idea was better or should be implemented first.  We are learning how to work together and love each other, which is one of our biggest family goals, besides the number one: Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sick today :-(

No Big Changes post today.  Not feeling well, sinus infection.  I went with a friend to get some fabric that was at her mom's house.  The house was old, and I could tell there was mold there.  Soon after I arrived I could feel my sinuses and ears reacting to the mold.  And sure enough, a few days later I have a sinus infection.  Bummer.  I've started some immune tea and a goldenseal/echinacea tincture.  So for today, there will be no thought provoking post :-)  I will just leave you with a bunch of pictures I took yesterday.

Isabella was kind enough to go into the attic to find some shoes for Aubrey.  He has been shoeless till now.

Trying to figure out how to walk in 'new' shoes.

Aubrey has taken to waving at the airplanes that fly over head!

Sometimes he needed a bit of help getting back up again.  I am sure this was fall number 742, just from today.

When we walked to get the mail, he found it easier to hold a hand.

Little babes with shoes are so cute!

Jonah was itching to get some digging in.  We will have to direct his digging efforts in the future, when we are ready to garden.  Here he is digging up our driveway.

At least he's willing to help.

Isabella was very happy to have received a letter from a pen pal.

Isabella hard at work, studying.

She's been taking a LOT of notes on this subject.

Hard at thought.

What she's been studying... :-)  Take note of the picture in the book.

 Below I put a bunch of pictures of Jed and Aubrey playing.  I am thinking that Jed had different intentions than Aubrey.  But non the less they both were having fun.  Note the amount of dirt *on* Aubrey.

After a quick brush off, Aubrey was having a blast being pushed around on the trike.  It was time to 'pack up' and go inside.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Big Changes #3 **Church

This picture has nothing to do with this post except that it shows the love of a sister for her brother while he was sick.

This has been one of the most contested of our changes, but not by us.  We most certainly do not believe that people have to agree with us, but they don't have to be rude either (the criticism was from outside our church).  We've had people, who were lovingly concerned with our change, and some that were trying to shake a finger at us.  I just want to reiterate, if you don't agree with us, that's totally fine, but just be nice about it in the comments :-)  This was not a decision that was made lightly.  This took a long time of mulling over, prayer and conversation before we made our final decision.

There are certainly many reasons we chose to attend this church in the first place.  It would most certainly be too long to go into here.  I will say that it was a bit of a swing in the opposite direction of where we were attending.  That was a difficult time, trying to find out what were really our convictions.  This last church had Sunday school, something we had not been in agreement with for many years.  But we decided to give it a try.  They also had a youth group.  That was 'tried' with Dad in tow, to see what they did, and the teaching they were getting.  It was decided that it was not beneficial.  So our oldest just helped out in the nursery during that hour (her choice).  The preaching was wonderful, and very Biblical.  So there wasn't anything wrong with that.  The church was varied in their convictions on non essentials.  And, being non essentials, there was nothing wrong with that.  Convictions are personal, and we have a few of them, convictions that we are not willing to give up/change.  It was our unwillingness to give them up that people thought was a concern. I would argue that it wouldn't be much of a conviction if you were willing to easily let it go :-)

Any homeschooling parent will know what I am talking about when I say that homeschooling isn't the easy road!  As such, it is hard to go it alone, although it can be done.  There was only one other family, with older children, that were homeschooling.  Any other homeschooled older children were sent to public school once they got to high school age.  This left our oldest child the odd 'man' out.  As was stated in the past two Changes posts, our family was on shaky ground.  As such it was proving difficult for Isabella to fend off the peer pressure.  Whether it was homeschooling, lack of cell phone, or the fact that she hadn't seen the latest movie, she was always the oddball.  I witnessed first hand the ridicule that she received.  At first we thought it was Isabella that had a problem with making friends.  It is now evident that it wasn't her, but that no one wanted to be her friend because she wasn't "one of them".  For that, I can be VERY thankful!!!!  But it was still heart breaking that she felt alone in the world.  Anyone who has read Michael Pearl's article, "Jumping Ship" will know that feeling can lead to jumping ship.  And we really saw that happening!  Granted, the bigger problem was that our ship wasn't something she wanted to stay on, but it didn't help to have the other influences around her. 

So we began to consider what should be done.  Our first focus, as it should be, was to change things in our family to make our ship more pleasant and livable.  But during this time it would prove one step forward, two back if we kept dangling that carrot before her eyes.  And a sinful carrot at that.  The deciding factor?  We happened to sit behind the youth group in service.  Someone was taking over as the youth leader and decided to have the youth group sit through service.  We came in late, and the only place to sit was behind them.  There isn't any other way to say this...I was appalled.  Plain and simple.  And NO, my children are not perfect in the least, but the behavior I saw was totally unwarranted.  And the whole while my daughters were taking this in. 

The following week we decided to try another church that friends of ours attended that we knew to be a family integrated church (though they don't call themselves that). I was not able to attend because one of the boys was sick.  I was a bit nervous since the girls were very upset about leaving our then current church.  They came home and Jeremiah said that they loved it, especially Isabella.  Now, do understand my children are not theologically minded, they base their decisions on how many playmates they have :-)  But what a relief to hear Isabella tell me all about her time there.  How everyone talked to her.  It was very telling, that just on that one visit, she said, "It was wonderful to not feel like an oddball!" 

People there are living most of our convictions.  The great thing is that there is freedom there, but that is not taken out of context.  Each family is following what they see the Scriptures speaking, and they want everyone there to live that freedom as well.  Our children have other homeschoolers to hang around with.  Modesty is upheld, but there are no rules as to girls must wear dresses only or anything like that.  They are very big into families being a close unit, and as such do not schedule a lot of church activities. 

There you have it.  The simple reasons.  Seemingly not so simple to all though.  We've been told we are being selfish.  Yes, really.  We have been told we should stay to be a light to those around us.  That does indeed sound Godly, but at what cost?  We have been willing to be honest and assess our family's strengths and weaknesses.  We are not strong enough to be that light.  Not yet, anyway.  It makes no sense to lose our children to the world to save others.  What we feel would be the right thing?  For those parents of those teens to be the light to their own children.  We've been accused of being isolationists.  We shouldn't be a part of a group that thinks like us.  I would dare say that pretty much everyone does so, without thinking of it.  We were just more mindful of it when making our decisions.

No church is perfect.  Our family isn't perfect.  We shouldn't choose a church on the sole basis of what can it do for me.  We are to be servants.  But that doesn't mean you throw your family's needs to the wind either.  We are glad there are other families out there that can be a light to those around them.  We pray we can be such a family one day.  For now, we have entered the greenhouse to tend closely to our tender and battered plants.  One day, Lord willing, we will be strong and ready to venture out into God's big garden!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Changes #2 ** Building Foundations

I couldn't find a picture to go with this post, so I just stuck this one in.  If you look really hard you can see our house.  And since I am going to write on 'foundations'...well, there's a slight correlation :-)

I think we are all aware of what would happen if you started to build a house on a faulty foundation.  When we had our Family Pow-Wow, this is the analogy we used to explain to the girls why we needed to make the changes we felt needed making.  With a bit of explanation, they all understood the idea.  We explained that, for our family, we had already been building on a faulty foundation.  That meant we needed to undo parts of our house (get rid of things or activities), and rebuild (add in appropriate things and activities).  Now, this sounds easy, but, as I told the girls, having to 'knock' out walls is hard work, time consuming and takes money.  It's a lot easier if you build it right the first time around.  So I explained that there was indeed going to be 'pain' involved, but that the end product would be *better* than what we had now. 

It was definitely painful for them when they realized all we were taking away.  There was no way to get around that.  Pulling down the walls, was the easy part, it is the rebuilding that is hard work.  But that hard work is now getting easier as we are all on board the family's goal wagon. 

So that was the pep talk we gave to our kids.  We gave them the illustration of the house foundation for them to understand better why we were doing what we were doing.  After that explanation we explained that our true foundation needed to be on Christ.  It goes much better to keep any spiritual talk on the positive.  I've noticed that it doesn't go well to make this *huge* connection from taking everything they know as life away from them to God's word.  I'm sure I am not explaining myself well here.  Basically it's kind of like making your child write out scriptures for an hour every time they were being punished.  They start to associate God's word with punishment.  So for this part of things we kept it simple.  A few verses were used to illustrate our point.  Some were:

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

– Matthew 4:3-4

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
-Matt. 6:33

And we talked about the idea of seeds and how they grow.  The concept of what you sow, is what you reap.  We talked about how we realized that we were sowing the wrong seed.  We don't know if we'll have time to put in a new crop (before our oldest two reach adulthood), but we certainly have to try, leaving the harvest in the Lord's hands. 

Along with the Pow-Wow meeting, Jeremiah and I have had other times where we have discussed our marriage.  I don't think there is a marriage out there that doesn't have problems at one time or another.  Some have more or bigger problems I suppose than others, but I am certain everyone has problems.  We are not the exception.  Our true foundation needs to start with Christ, then the next level would be a firm marriage.  This will be a work in progress, but for now we've made changes that we can live and work within.  Jeremiah just downloaded a bunch of sermons on marriage and family.  We plan on listening to one each night, or there abouts.

There is still much work to be done, but with our "Plan" and "Foundation" stages being addressed we are seeing a wonderful change in how we are addressing life.  It has been wonderful to have something to hold up to help make future decisions.  Is this activity going to help our family goals?  Is this movie going to promote our family goals/values? Etc.  The world has an agenda (known or not) and it is NOT for marriage, or for family.  Our children, and dare I say we adults, are being taught something by everything we do.  Everything.  We are always learning.  If we weren't then people wouldn't have to go to school to learn advertisement.  But they do, so they can learn how to affect the rest of us.  What we set before our eyes, WILL make a difference.  What we listen to, WILL affect us.  Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it will eventually. 

Ok, enough of my rambling :-)  Flannery just made an awesome kefir smoothie for us.  I need to go make up some peanut butter pancakes for them now.  A real treat as we are gradually coming off gaps intro!!

Sharing this on Simple Lives Thursday

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Big Changes #1**Evaluating the State of Our Family

It was decided that the state of our family was indeed....messy!

The changes we made were by no means a fly by the seat of our pants reaction to things going on around us.  Jeremiah and I sat down on multiple occasions to access where we've been, what has been the results of what we've been doing and making plans to change things to get where we want to go.  One of the biggest problems we had was that we didn't know where we were going!  We pretty much felt that we were living life in survival mode.  Just like running on a treadmill, running, running, running, but getting NOwhere.  Not a fun thing.  We needed a plan, even if it was a basic plan.  We are confident that God will show us the next clarifying step, but we needed to make up an overall map, based on prayer and His word.  We talked at length as the reality of what needed to be done was becoming evident, and it wasn't going to be easy.  Some people think we are trying to play the Holy Spirit by 'containing' our children.  Others have thought we are taking this homeschooling thing too far.  But I dare say that a lot of people thought Noah was off his rocker for building an ark, but that didn't stop him :-) 

So, what was the state of our family?  We were pretty close to shambles.  The easiest way to sum it up would be to say we all had big time heart issues.  This is where anyone's problems start to be sure. For the specifics though...

Chaos, anger, laziness, bitterness, and more bad stuff seriously filled our home.  To be honest we are still dealing with those, but there has definitely been changes for the good. It was pretty much each man for himself.  In a large family that doesn't bode well.  In any family that doesn't bode well!  It just makes for more chaos the larger your family is.  Anyways we realized that we needed to set our priorities straight.  We decided to get an idea of where we wanted to go and then work back from there.  Evaluating everything we were doing and asking if it was going to help us reach our goal. 

We had lots of fighting going on between all of us.  Laziness reigned.  Getting the kids to do anything was like pulling teeth.  They were all more concerned about their friends or computer games than each other.  They were not thinking for themselves.  Some were being influenced by the children around them (this was from church).  Our family values were continually being challenged.  We have no problem with talking about our values, why we believe the way we do, but this was not what was going on. We are talking about challenged as going behind our backs.  And this is with just the children!

Jeremiah and I were on shaking ground for various reasons.  For privacy we won't discuss those here, but suffice it to say things had come to a head and something needed to give.  With an unstable relationship our family was on wobbly ground.  Our time with the Lord was reduced to obligation.  I still have a long way to go here, but at least I see the problem now.  It's just the logistics now to set things straight.

Our home was a mess.  Literally.  We were being overtaken by our stuff! We weren't taking care of the things we had.  The inside was a mess, and the outside was a mess.  This was causing our animals to be sick.  Some of the problem had to do more with our layout than an actual mess.  For example goats really need to be rotated in different 'padlocks' as they are so prone to worms.  We most certainly did not make out ahead with our goat milk last year with them being so sick for half the milking season.  This caused us more work, more money and more time.

Everyone (including yours truly) wanted to just hang out in a world of their own.  This was either computer time, games, videos, or walking around with an I-Pod in their ears. Some of us, not many I can assure you, had enough past training to get work done, so we didn't fall into an abyss.  But we certainly were not being productive.

As you can see, it was not a pretty picture.  Thankfully I had some good friends who gave wonderful Godly advice.  They were patient with my questions.  We have also read books in the past that addressed this very issue, and we had that information at our disposal as well.  With this in hand, we started to carve out a plan.  We knew that we needed to start with what God had already given us.  We needed to focus our attention on the things were already doing, that would contribute to the well being of our family.  We decided that we needed to do everything as a family.  For us that included our wee little homestead.  We thought that we should learn all we could to best care for the animals we had, and how we could best use the space of our land.  This would give us something to work on as a family.  Now, what did we have going on in our family that might interfere with that goal?  Oh, boy.  There was a bunch!  Movies, games, computer, 'junk food' books and more.  We realized that we needed to change our spending habits to facilitate these goals.  There isn't a lot of wiggle room there to work with, so we are needing to get creative.  As we were going over these things we knew that it was going to be important that we just didn't rip the rug out from under the girls.  We needed to make sure we had a plan and options to work with.  In the past our downfall was that we took things out of their life, but weren't putting anything in it's place.  That was a recipe for disaster.

Once we were ready with our plan we called a Family Pow-Wow Meeting.  We told the girls our plan. There were many an objection to be sure.  But once they saw that we seriously wanted their input, and that we ourselves came to the table with options, the dust started to settle.  In the next handful of posts I'll address each area one by one.  Why we made a change, how we went about it, and how it's working for us now.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday and Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, January 23, 2012

"The Big Changes" post

It's been a few months now that we've made our "big changes".  I have to say that it went smoother than I anticipated.  We had about 48 hours of crying on and off about some of our changes.  But once the girls saw that we were serious about what we planned on "adding" to our family they seemed to accept the changes.  As a matter of fact, the other day when I was writing my last post Moira was reading over my shoulder.  When I wrote about the things my girls are now doing since our changes, she chimed in with, "I'm so glad we made all those changes.  We have so much time now to do the things we really want to do."  I would count that as a thumbs up :-)  I was going to go item by item in this post, but got caught up with saying things like, 'well there is a lot more to that that I won't go into...', and I realized that I should take each point by itself, in it's own post.
Before I begin I just want to add that we made these changes for many varied reasons.  We have already come against some opposition about these changes.  I would just ask that those reading will respect that we are doing what we feel is right for our family.  Our choices have not be the most popular.  Which is why it was important for us to find a group of people that accepted our decisions.  This was for the peace of our family and so as not to dangle the proverbial carrot before our childrens' eyes.  The changes in a list:

:: evaluating the state of our family
:: building a foundation
:: church
:: outside activities
:: twaddle patrol
:: clutter control
:: setting family goals
:: the next step

These will all have some over lapping similarities as to our reasons for change.  But some have a different motive or a different way we decided to make the changes.  We are in no way 'finished' with some of the changes, but for now it has  more to do with consistency and fine tuning.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting out before the rain

I've got a bunch of stuff I need to get done today.  So this will be quick.  I did finally assemble all of Saoirse's needed remedies, and we put an order in for the couple of things we didn't have on hand.  When we get them in I may post them.  But for now, here was our day yesterday.

One thing this diet has done, is seemingly eradicated Flannery's allergic response to cats.  There would have been NO way for her to cuddle up with this kitty as she is doing above without her whole lower face swelling up with hives.  She's been carrying this kitty around as much as she can and not one hive to be seen!!

Everyone, including the baby it seems, wanted to walk up to get the mail.  Not me, I have been way too tired with this intro stuff and a baby who is NOT sleeping.

The girls are pretty obsessed with saving as much money as possible.  Here is Saoirse rounding up any possible plastics and metals.  Too funny.

I hope to always remember Jonah's taste in clothing :-)  Strips, plaid, shorts with socks and 'dress' shoes.

Why do we have a bucket hanging from a tree you ask?  I don't know.  Maybe the girls are 'practicing' should they ever come across a maple tree that they wish to tap for maple sap (I love the ideas they get from our homesteading videos!).  And as for the pinkness of this bucket...besides brightening the overall photo since it was so over cast this is the real deal color!  I think I might need some sunglasses!

With all of the lack of sleep this guy has been giving me, all I can say is....thank goodness he's so CUTE!

Although at 3 AM he doesn't seem *as* cute :-)

He had climbed up,all by himself, into the stroller.  He's getting so big!

Aubrey found some other fun stuff to play with.

The whole time he was playing with the straw he had this funny face going on.

Now that is one purple rope!

I really, really have to get on the ball to write up that post about us 'giving up' a bunch of stuff around here.  It truly has made huge changes in how our children spend their time.  Here is Flannery making a bird feeder.

Some of the supplies Flannery was using.  We have all sorts of stuff around here to tinker with.

Alright!  Time to get up and work.  Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Natural remedies galore!

Alrighty, here are the supplements/remedies that I need to give to Saoirse.  At the end I list some supp./rem.  for some of the rest of us.

For Overall Health:

::  To get to the root of the problem we need to test for mold.  I know that even if we still have mold it has to have decreased significantly as I am not getting back to back sinus infections.

::  Alkalizing drink.  This will help with her sinus and bladder infections.  To be taken 2 times a day.

1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup of water

::  Health tonic.  Or ACV shot :-)  To be taken twice a day.  (Recommended for all of us.)

1 TBS of apple cider vinegar
pinch of baking soda
wait till fizzing stops, then add:
honey to taste (I'm thinking lots!)

For the Sinus Infection:

::  Create a steam tent (boiling pot of water under a towel) with lavender essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil.  Saoirse needs to breathe this in *every* hour the first two days, then go down to every two hours, then every 3 hours, etc.  This alone is going to be very taxing as she is not old enough to do this herself, or even to be left alone to breathe it in herself.

::  Vitamin D3, 4,000 IUs daily to be broken up into 2 or 3 doses

:: Vitamin C powder with a pinch of baking soda in water. This helps to buffer the vit. C, making it easy on your stomach. Take to bowel tolerance.
:: Powdered magnesium citrate (do NOT use magnesium oxide), with potassium. Put in water. Take to bowel tolerance.

::  The 3 Musketeers (a natural antibacterial combo).  Take this for 7 to 10 days:

colloidal silver 2 times a day
In a "0" size capsule put--
1/2 capsule of grapefruit seed extract
1/2 capsule of oregano oil
::  At bedtime fill humidifier with 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Using food grade peroxide and diluting it is cheaper.  Make sure to cover any nearby surfaces as it can 'bleach' them.

  For Ear Infection:
::   Fill ear canal with hydrogen peroxide.  Can use food grade to increase to 5 or 6 percent peroxide.  Wait till fizzing stops, let peroxide drain out.  She must do this multiple times a day till we observe no more fizzing.  Fizzing signifies an infection.

For Bladder Infection:
::  We need to get some pH strips to check her overall alkalinity and for the UTI.  (must be between 7.0 and 8.0, definitely not below that range.
::  Cranberry juice, 100% kind.  This will be hard to take, maybe honey will help the medicine go down?
::  Urva Ursi, 1 pill 2 times a day, for 10 days only.  Do not exceed 10 days.
So that is all for Saoirse's acute infections.  As a maintenance she should take the following drink.  
1/2 cup lemon juice (straight from the lemons), make sure to get some pulp in there
cap full of Fulvic Mineral Complex
pinch of baking soda
pinch of sea salt
Fill up a glass or water bottle the rest of the way with water.
The above drink can be used during times of dehydration, or used as a sports drink.  If you have a child with a fever you put them in the bath tub with the following additives, and then give them this drink to sip while they soak.
For Bath:
1 cup baking soda
1 cup borax
2 cups Epsom salt
Then for me, our practitioner was able to see that I was having joint issues.  It has been much better since being on GAPS.  I used to wake up and all my joints were in a lot of pain.  It would take me an hour to loosen up and be able to move without pain.  With GAPS the pain is gone, but I do still have some stiffness.  So I am supposed to take the following concoction:
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
cap full of Fulvic Mineral Complex
pinch of baking soda
pinch of sea salt
I am also to look into taking MSM, which is a sulfur supplement.
Our practitioner was very happy to see Jedidiah's progress. One of the most notable was that he is growing into his head.  He is finally looking more proportional.  This is a good thing.  I was lamenting the fact that, although we have seen great progress with Jed, we haven't seen the weight gain like we would like.  I was reminded that one of the first things our practitioner found when Jed was first tested, was that his heart was weak.  As a safety mechanism a person's body will not outgrow its heart's ability to function properly.  So it was suggested that we get Jed on the following:
::  Krill oil.  Number one!  Must get!  Not sure how we are going to get him to take it.  I'll come up with something.
::  An omega supplement
::  Magnesium citrate.  I can probably put it in his smoothies
::  Possibly look into CoQ 10
::  Cyenne pepper would be helpful, but both of us couldn't think of how to get that into him.
For Flannery, since she is still having some pinching sensations, although MUCH, much improved.  She needs to be on the magnesium as well.  It looks to me like we will be investing in a bulk order of magnesium :-)
And finally some help with female cramping.  One of our girls has been having very painful cycles and it looks more like a hormone issue.  So for maintenance she needs to take kelp.  You could use a good iodine liquid, but kelp is safer I guess.  Also for pain, until the kelp corrects any issues:
Turmeric pills
Boswalia pills
MSM pill
Magnesium oil spray on skin over affected area
I do not know the dosages, you would have to read the bottles.
Well just looking over this list is exhausting!  I guess I better get to work!!!
AS ALWAYS do your own research!! I am only sharing things that we plan on doing, this is not to be taken as medical advice.  Please see your own health practitioner.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The poor thing!

Must start school, but thought I would write quick.  I am hoping to remind myself to write a full post on this as I need a safe way to store my information.  Trying to keep three small papers safe and sound is a hard task around these parts.  But those papers have all the information I need to help Saoirse get well.

We finally were able to see our holistic practitioner.  Some may recall that Saoirse has been complaining of headaches, dizziness and stomach pain.  On top of that I noticed her cystitis getting 'worse'.  Well come to find out the poor thing has a sinus infection, an ear infection and a bladder infection!!  The sinus infection explains her headaches and stomach pain (from the post nasal drip).  And her seemingly worsening of her cystitis was just a bladder infection thrown on top.  Needless to say this also explains her emotional breakdowns in the past couple of weeks.  Basically she was at the end of her rope of feeling poorly.  I would have taken her in sooner had she told me how badly she felt.  She never had a fever, and pretty much lived a normal life :-) 

The funny thing was that towards the end of her testing I was thinking to myself, "What in the world????  Is this diet helping us at all?  Where am I going wrong?..."  Soon after those thoughts entered my mind our practitioner says, "I know you may find this hard to believe, but Saoirse is actually very healthy.  There's only been a few people I can say that are 'clean', but she's one of them.  So you are doing a great job with this diet."  Really?  wow!  Ok, deep breath in, deep breath out.  The bottom line is that it appears we have not eradicated the mold like we thought as this is the underlying issue that Saoirse is facing.  I have a long list of supplements and natural remedies that she has to start taking.  Make no doubt about it, it's going to be labor intensive.  I have to say that is one draw back with this holistic practitioner(h.p.) compared to homeopathy.  With our h.p., you get her remedy and on top of it you have to take a bunch of supplements and natural remedies.  With homeopathy you only need to take a single remedy a few times a day for only a few days.  But, the homeopathy is a lot more expensive.  Especially since they would see this as a constitutional case and not an acute situation.  Oh well.  At least I know what we are facing and that we have a means to beat it.

Alrighty, off to gather my girls to start our lessons.  I'll be back later to write out all the info for what she has to take.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Replacing twaddle

I've mentioned about ridding our home of twaddle.  I think a post of all the changes we have made is in order, but for now here is one snippet of our changes. 

Reading materials.  It can be a tricky road to cover sometimes.  Especially if you don't have the funding to buy books.  We make it more of a practice to look for books that we would like for our children to read or use and then go to the library's online search to see if our library system carry any of the ones we deem fit.  We 'request' it online, and it is on the hold shelf for us in a few days.  This has drastically cut down on the twaddle coming in.  My children were very fond of going to the library and searching for books.  However, more likely than not, they came back with comics, or other twaddle books.  They definitely had art books, or animal books that were fine, but too many poor choices were being brought in.  There are only so many hours in the day and the thought of "did I want my child to spend their precious hours with junk food for the mind", made me stop and reconsider our ways.  So this way isn't as fun for the kids, but has most certainly helped us to work towards our family goals.

That being said, there are days, like science class days, when it is too cold or wet that we need to pass one and a half hours...with 5 children.  Not a fun time.  So today I took them to the library.  However when it came time to leave I put the children in the van and then went back for the books.  I took this time to weed out unwanted books.  Below you will see the choices we came home with.  Because the girls' schooling is filled with living books, I use library books to fill in their interests.  They were pretty excited about the new reads.  Isabella LOVES (yes, with all caps!) The Self Sufficient Life by Seymour.  She really wants to buy it, but it's a pricey book.  So for now we just have to renew it.  Hmmm, maybe that would make a good birthday present. 

We got a few more that are not pictured, but the themes are all the same (homesteading, cooking, animals, or crafting).

Aubrey wants to get in on the fun!  He's holding a book that the girls are going goo-goo over, called In*Jean*Uity.  It's taking jeans and either embellishing them ( you can use the ideas for jean skirts as well), or repourposing them.  We just got a bag of clothing off of freecycle, or the homeschool loop (can't remember), and it had two pairs of jeans that we couldn't wear.  One had huge holes in the knees, and the other was a men's size that didn't fit anyone.  We were going to get rid of them when I came across this book today.  The girls have been hard at work cutting, measuring and sewing.  Fun stuff.

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