Monday, November 28, 2011

How Different My Life Has Turned Out To Be

   I was a typical teenage girl when it came to my "envisioned" future. I thought I would someday get married, have 2.8 children live in the suburbs with a picket fence, little swing to sit in and watch the kids play in the front yard. I thought we would have play dates and I would go shopping and we would just be, well one of those perfect families like you see on TV. Yes I was young and naive but hey why not, right...
       Then I had my first child and that vision quickly died. However if I am completely honest I still secretly hold tight to that vision in my inner most being. We were poor, living in an apartment complex. Then we moved to Virginia atop a mountain, thankfully only for a year or so. We moved to a small house back in Ohio praise God! It seemed things were slightly more within my reach. Then we moved in to an even bigger house (still a small starter house) right beside a trailer park, no fence, we couldn't even send the kids out to play if we were not with them. They had friends while in school but they never got close with anyone and I was always so nervous about what others thought we didn't have kids over to often because I always felt we weren't good enough, or we didn't have enough to have them have fun. We lived in that house for several years. Gala was even born in that house.
     Something you have to understand, I grew up in the only city in our county. So it was not Columbus but it was the "good" side of town at least. My parents did not buy me everything I wanted but I pretty much knew they could if they wanted to. So I always just thought that was what I would have only better!
    I knew my husband wanted land though, and I wanted  to get away from some unsavory characters that seemed to cast a shadow over my husband from time to time. Therefore in typical Tiffany fashion, I jumped on the idea and became obsessed with finding land and preferably not in our home county. I saw a 42 acre farm and thought we have to move here! When I get fixated on an idea everything seems less than important. I don't like that about myself. Regardless within a few months we were packing up and moving in. We thought we would  have to remove some wallpaper and paint and maybe a few minor things from there. Ha! We have gutted the entire house besides the hallways and the kitchen.
   It was a huge adjustment, just being able to let our kids play outside by themselves was so very hard. I missed my mom more than I knew humanly possible. I missed my one of only three (in my whole life) true friends. I missed my church. I missed my spiritual mother and being a midwife! I missed being able to drive 15 minutes to Walmart and a Kroger-with good foods, JCPenny and even the best ever chiropractor, I was not happy.
    We have been here for about 2.5 years now and I am finally coming to realize this is our home and I'm beginning to be ok with that. I still miss all those things but I am getting accustomed to living in a small town on a small farm. I love my goats, yeah, who would have thought. I love my church, even though it is different from our old church it has an amazing family of people there. I love the fact that my kids can run and play freely and get all sorts of experiences you just can't get living in suburbia. I love that my husband is happy here. My younger kids at least have found several friends. My older three and myself, we have not found everyday "best"friends yet, but we do have some occasional friends, those who we only see on occasion and talk on the phone to occasionally, but we still have hopes for something to develop soon. My wonderful husband has even put up a fence an outdoor swing for me to enjoy while watching them play, it actually made me cry, in a good way. This is our home, and even though it is not how I thought my life would be I am happy here and I know that God knows what He is doing bringing us here. So goodbye 2.8 kids suburban soccer mom life...Hello 7 kids and counting goat farming hoe body mom! I think I like her ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Small Family Thanksgiving Spent Together

  I know that most people get together with parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sister, grandparents or maybe just friends. We had been doing that for years. Mostly with my husbands family. My family does not do a whole lot together. At times it was at one of their houses and a few times we hosted it at ours. When it was at ours, my nerves would get flustered, I would be stressed out for days and I would spend to much money and time trying to make everything perfect-and NO don't even think about trying to help! If someone were to have to help, then I would be admitting I could not do it all and that would be defeat on my part.
   Since then I have mellowed out more than I ever thought I could. We try to get together with his parents the day before or something, but we have spent the last couple of years at home with just our kids. I have to admit, I love it that way. We have turned Thanksgiving into not only a family experience but also a learning one.

                                                            Hadassah is always front and center
This year we made the pumpkin pies a couple of days early and stored them in the fridge.

                                                Gala loves helping out with measuring.

                                              Alyssa won 1st place in 4-H for cooking so she is a big help!
 Because we had to visit Jamie's parents the day before Thanksgiving we went ahead with making the mashed potato's early as well.

                                             Blixon had the pleasure of pealing and cutting the potato's

                                                  Haven and Jakob had to assist in the mixer fun.
Jakob kind of had his hands in a little bit of everything really. I think he likes it that way. Thanksgiving day we all slept in and decided it was official comfy clothes day, which believe it or not is a rarity in our house. The kids begged dad to hang some CHRISTmas lights because he was actually home for the whole day and it wasn't to bad weather wise.
            Haven was not helping dad so much as helping me inside with the baby while I got dinner finished up. Not to mention she is afraid of heights and yes this is our roof and yes that is our 2yr old up there. When it comes to those kinds of things, I close my eyes and turn my head and trust that Jamie will keep my children alive ;-) They got a lot accomplished before dinner. Alyssa came in and she and Haven and Gala helped with the table while dad and Jakob hung a couple of more strands. Then...
                                                            Thanksgiving Dinner Time!
                                                        Nothing to elaborate, just the usual.
         We all sat down together, took turns thanking God for what He has blessed us with and enjoyed a wonderful dinner, together as a family. I almost wish everyday could be Thanksgiving, but I'm sure my body would not thank me so much as I put on the pounds. But it really is something to be thankful for. A Dinner prepared by the whole family, Time spent with one another, And our family in and of itself, not to mention all of the other things I could go on and on about. I only hope that every year can be so wonderful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Home School vs Public School

   When I was young I had a vision for my children when it came to school. I wanted them to be dressed in great cloths, but not the most expensive, I didn't want them to be boastful. I wanted them to be liked by all, and I wanted them to be nice to everyone even the "unpopular" kids. I wanted my girls to be cheerleaders, and my son to be the star quarterback (or at least on the football team) I wanted them to play soccer and basketball. I wanted them to be on the honor roll and just be great students all around!
  Boy was I ever shooting high. however we were on our way to reaching my 'idealistic" student. The kids were in public school and the girls were social butterflies. Jakob played football in the 3rd grade, the girls were cheerleaders, they all played soccer and swam and did gymnastics through the YMCA. They also played basketball at our church through Upward. They all did very well when it came to grades. I volunteered whenever I could for anything I could at the school and was on the PTO.
   I met a few people who home schooled at church or other parenting groups I belonged to. I thought they were crazy! Why in the world would anyone want to home school, I thought. I always said "more power to ya" but it's just not for me. I was certainly an on-the-go kind of mom, we were hardly ever at home. I loved the way things were, or so I thought.
   Then I began my training in Midwifery. It was very inconvenient to be so far away and get a call from the nurse to come and get the kids, or just the simple fact that I had to arrange my schedule to work around their school schedule. The wonderful Midwife (my spiritual mother) who was training me spoke often about home schooling. Suddenly half way through the school year I forcibly talked Jamie (my husband) into letting me pull the kids out of public school and do one of those computer public schools at home. It was AWFUL. they did not tell me, but when we got all of our stuff, they wanted them to catch up with all of the work from the beginning of the year, that was insane! We tried but then to incorporate the computer with their work and type in their answers, well after about 2 months I was ready to send them back to public school. The following year they stayed at school. The whole time though I was feeling the pull toward home schooling. I talked Jamie into letting me try once again, only this time buying the curriculum.
  That was a hefty expense. We went with Abeka Academy with the DVDs. It was terrible, it did not work for us at all. After about three months or so we stopped using the DVDs all together but still had to pay the rental fee. The kids and I fought all of the time, because of all of the dredge work. Abeka told me if they could do the first little bit skip the rest, well I just couldn't do that. We never went anywhere unless it was a scheduled break, because the kids were working from 9:00 am until 5:00pm some days. Not that I didn't know several people who loved Abeka books.
  We then went the complete opposite and went with a Charlotte Mason styled school My Fathers World. That was more group oriented year. (did I mention we moved 2 hours away) We did alot of the classes all together. My reading to them mostly. I loved the thought of it, but it didn't work either. I have a couple of kids who can not pay attention very well so I don't think they got alot from that. So the very next year we tried Switched-on-Schoolhouse. A downloadable computer school that would actually grade most of the kids' work itself. That seemed ideal, I mean I didn't have to do a whole lot. I really do not like grading at all, and I do have troubles myself sometimes trying to teach them. I have to learn some of it over myself. I  didn't think it had enough meat to it though, so four laptops  and a year later. We were back to the drawing board.
  This year we are doing what is called eclectic curriculum. Its a variety of classes rather then one curriculum bought with a manual and all. Guess what they are even in Abeka english and history, imagine that, Ha! This year really seems to be working out for everyone but my first grader. who I sent to public school a couple of months ago because we didn't have the money to shop around and I do not feel like what we had for her was teaching her enough and at that point i didn't know what to add to make it better. Everyday I wake up wishing she was staying home.
  Every year before I order their school I make a list of pro's
My Reasons For Home Schooling                                   My Temptations For Public School
*Christian curriculum                                                                           *  More friends
*Less pressure, drugs and sex                                                            *Easier on me (selfish)
*No Bullying here                                                                                 * More time for me (selfish)
*Safe with us                                                                                         *Ability to play sports (not allowed  here)
*We are raising them rather than the "system"                               * More exposure to things earlier on, to where  
*We get to choose what they are exposed to and when               * I can be here to help guide them through
     (by the way we are more open with them                                      rather than later in life when I'm not around
          then most parents                                                                       * More computer training (able to with home
       including public schooled kids)                                                    schooling, just haven't did it yet)
*We are a stronger family unit for it                                                   * Dances
*They have more time to just be a kid                                              *Tend to mature quicker
*We have the ability to gear their courses towards their interests and abilities
*They tend to learn more life skills

   So even though it is a close list between the two I also have always been the kind of parent who listens to how they feel on the inside. I like to think that is God, guiding me in the direction i should go and that feeling has clearly been telling me to home school for several years now. I do want everyone to know I am not anti public school at all. I know it is needed and I wish that people would give the schools, teachers, the recognition they deserve really. Its just that it is not where we are in our lives right now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Finally at the Age

  Everyone with more than 2 children knows it is extremely hard to find a babysitter these days. And to find one for 7 kids well, you might as well ask to fly to the moon! Unless you have an amazing mom like mine, she would. Unfortunately my mom is almost 2 hours away :-( So it makes me laugh to hear these women, or men sometimes, talk about not being able to bring their kids to the store because they drive them nuts, 2 kids, HA. On the norm I am taking all 7 of mine everywhere we go, including the occasional Dr.s visits we need, yes all 7 kids in a tiny little office. That's just the way things are for us. We are all used to it, My kids and I do not know anything different.
  I will admit there has been a handful of times when dad has watched the kids, but its rare, or he only watches a couple of them to make it slightly easier ( he means well but it doesn't really make much of a difference) I think from day one until now, my husband and I have been out on a date alone (we consider with only an infant alone) maybe 25 times or so in almost 12 years! This is our life and yes we are still in love and no we do not resent our children. No we do not feel as if we are missing out on some fun life, would it be nice to go out more to a movie or dinner, of course but it's just not that time in our life right now.
  However a super duper BIG change has occurred in The Elkins home. We now have an almost 13 year old and a 12 year old and down. Every morning they are opened I am now able to go to Curves and workout for 30 min. or even run to the grocery, which is less then 5 minutes also and grab a few things all by myself! I have not been able to do that for my entire adult life. I would never leave for hours or go any farther than just a few minutes away of course. But I now know how glorious it is to have older children. I will never use my children as built in babysitters, but they enjoy the new found responsibility just as much as I appreciate it. It makes them feel big, they told me.
   So when so many people want to act as if  7 kids would be so much harder than 2 or 3, they don't understand that they do grow up. It's not as if they stay infants and toddlers forever. At some point they do become more self sufficient people. I am so very thankful and appreciative of this new season of our lives with our children growing and maturing. Now if only they could stay this way forever. I don't know what we'll do when its time for even one to leave home, but that's a whole other story now isn't it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why 7 kids and counting?

Well of course there's the obvious..yes you guessed it we have 7 kids. I also wanted to add some humor to my Blog. It seems as if at least once a week (usually more) I am asked, "are all these yours" as if they are something to be possessed like beanie babies or something. I have had the "Do you know what causes that?" "yes" I reply "and apparently I am very good at it" They love that one. "How do you do it", "you sure got your hands full" a friend gave me a wonderful reply to that one "rather full than empty" thanks Annie. I have been asked if I were catholic, as if that matters, but no I am not.When I had but 4 kids and was at an ice cream shop with a friend who had 3 they asked us if we ran a daycare, now I get this by myself, lol. I have been asked if I was going to go out for a TV show or if I was trying to out do the Duggars ( I don't like these 2 find them rude) Although I think the most rude thing O had ever heard, which I do not think it was intended for my ears rather the woman's daughter "Do you want to know my worst nightmare...That" Motioning to me and a friend who again at the time I had 5 kids and she had 4 by this time! The nerve of some people! I just don't understand why some people would say such hurtful things, or disrespectful things just because we choose to have a larger family than most in this country. Oh and I forgot my favorite, "are you done yet" Ha, who knows, I highly doubt it, why should I be done? Is there a number that you can get to that suddenly the shock value is so great no one asks anymore? I know I am getting a little tired of it all and so are the kids. But at the same time it gives me a chance to witness to people in my own way, so bring it on people I'm not shy. Yes I have 7 kids, yes I am married, yes I know what causes it, no I am not done, no I don't want to be on TV and no I do not want 20 kids,yes my hands are always full and I am a busy mom, yes I am a Christian and I home school and guess what I birth my babies at home with dad who catches his children! My husband is not afraid to change a dirty diaper and even clean one out (we use cloth, and not because we have to) my kids have chores but no they are not slaves. We have 42 acres and milk our own goats. Is it easy having 7 kids, no not always but would I change a thing, absolutely not! I love my ornery little energetic loud chaotic family and I am proud to be the mother of 7 kids and counting!