Saturday, May 28, 2016

Decluttering/Organizing Frenzy

  I like having a clean and tidy and uncluttered house.

  Well, let me rephrase that. I would LIKE it if we had a clean, tidy, and uncluttered house.

 Realistically, our family of 11 has a LOT of stuff. We have clutter. We have extra stuff.  We are blessed to have a big house and a lot of storage room but still, we're a long way from the ideals of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  (That's a weird book incidentally, as it is written by a Japanese lady and her way at looking at the world is quite different from mine.)

  Anyway.  I'm sure that the logical way to declutter and organize would be to set aside an hour every week and toil away at something. BUT, that's not me.  Instead, 2 or 3 times a year the urge to organize slugs me over the head, and I go crazy for a couple of weeks.  And you guessed it, now is the time.


This, dear readers, is my proudest image.  THIS is our storage room/secret room/tornado shelter.  Mostly a storage room. We call it the secret room sometimes because it is sort of, vaguely, hidden in one corner of the basement. And it is a splendid tornado shelter. Anyhoo, there is lots of stuff in this room but it is way better than usual.  You can see the FLOOR.  Lots of floor.  I rearranged stuff and threw away other stuff and tidied up the floor considerably. AND, we have friends with a new baby and we are going to give them the exersaucer and backpack, so soon that will be out of here.

I took all the book off a bookcase in our main hall, and moved the bookcase downstairs into the basement so it would be less "in the way."  I took that opportunity to go through all the books on that bookcase and evaluate them.

Now let me just be honest here. I come from a family of book fiends.  My parents have...I don't know.  Thousands and thousands and thousands of books. They are on bookshelves and very well organized, but it is a truly extraordinary bunch of books. So honestly, having a bunch of books seems normal, logical, even godly, to me :-).  But I am forcing myself to be choosy and I am getting rid of some books.  I still have many, many books (many hundred, I would guess) but if a book is just not that awesome, I'm getting rid of it.  Gone are the days when I would snaffle up almost any book I could lay my hands on.

So yeah, I'm getting rid of some items (we donated 4 bags of clothes to Goodwill this week, and have 4 more bags to go the local crisis pregnancy center) and I'm also planning to organize our games and puzzles over the next few weeks. Since school is winding down for the year, this is a reasonable time to accomplish this task.

This all takes time, effort, and work so one question is, why bother?  I'm guessing most people know the answer but I'll say it anyway -- an organized, uncluttered house is so much easier to manage.  When we keep what we really need and want, and get rid of less desirable items, we open up storage space, allow easy access to items, and can remember where items are.  That is one goal, incidentally, of getting rid of books -- I'd rather keep ones I really care about, and keep them in organized places, than have a whole bunch of books stored so randomly that I can't lay my hands on them easily.

  Regarding clothes, we are getting rid of Rose's clothing as she grows out of them, and we're also getting rid of Daniel's very "male" clothing that HE grows out of.  This is diminishing our store of clothing quite considerably, which is delightful.

Our Little Guy is 4!

Daniel turned 4 this week.

We went to a local ice cream place/farm the morning of his birthday, which was fun for all.

Ice cream.  This place has about 50 flavors and everyone enjoyed their cones/bowls of ice cream.

Feeding the goats.

Baby cow.

Standing on big tires.

Playing on a stationary, elderly tractor.

And here is the necessary cake.  

Daniel, at age 4, is a delightful little fellow. He has his moments of being challenging, of course, but in general he is a happy, bouncy, enthusiastic little boy who delights our hearts 95% of  the time.  His little sister, while equally awesome, throws a lot more tantrums so...I'm hoping that as Rose grows, she mellows out to be like Daniel is now :-).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Busy Week WITHOUT Officially Homeschooling

     This lovely pile of binders is what I took to my homeschool assessment last night.  Ohio law requires that each year, a homeschooled child is either tested or assessed by a certified Ohio teacher.  We always go the assessment route, and last night was our assessment.

    I spent the last couple of weeks finishing up the portfolios for our older 6 kids.  Our assessor went through each portfolio and we talked about how the children are doing academically. It is always a good review of our year and our assessor gives me good ideas for the future.

  Naomi has been SUPER busy the last couple of weeks.  We are close to finishing her 50 hours of driving (with us) so she can take her test to get her driver's license. All we have to do is 2.2 hrs more of night driving. Of course, night driving is a bit challenging to come by in May, when the days are so long.  But we'll make it happen in the next couple of weeks.

  Naomi is also taking a 1 credit class this summer at a nearby community college.  Last week she had to take a placement test and attend orientation.

  Last, but not least, Naomi is starting a part time job for a local tech firm, headed by a friend of ours.

  So with all that Naomi has needed to do, and Rose being crazy, and the need to pull things together for portfolios, I decided to take a break from school.

  The kids have not sat around twiddling their thumbs. As usual, they have been busy and interested.

  There is a homeschooling method known as "unschooling" where parents don't direct their children at all academically, but do provide them with opportunities to learn and grow in the areas they are excited about.

 Given my orderly personality, the unschooling method isn't appealing long term. I have to say, though, that when the kids are let loose they often are amazingly creative. Here are just a few things they've taken up this week.

Reading.  I pulled our literally 100 books this week from the library, and the older 6 (except for Naomi) have been reading a lot.

The kids got very excited about blocks and dominos and army men and a mixture of all 3.  

Our younger  kids (except for Rose) also did some painting in our sun room.

And here is cuteness personified.

For one brief moment, she sat still and quietly drank her milkie.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Trip to Michigan

I just realized that I don't have that many pictures of the KIDS, because Lydia was taking pictures on her camera and I was too busy chasing kids to take pictures at the zoo on Tuesday.  So most of these pictures are from Kevin and my trip to Holland.  We went to Michigan on Monday, headed to Holland on Tuesday (while my parents cared for our kids) and then came back to my parents' home on Friday.  Saturday, we packed up and went home.

On the way.  We had a DVD player mounted behind the driver's seat, and the kids were fairly happy sitting and watching Ninjago episodes for 5 hours.

Like I said, Tuesday morning was blank.  We all went to a zoo.

Then Kevin and I went to Holland, Michigan.  They have a tulip festival every year, which is actually happening THIS week.  So last week, when we were there, we didn't cope with masses of tourists but the city was gorgeous with tulips everywhere.

We went to Windmill Island on Thursday.  Holland was settled (in the 1800's) by Dutch settlers and much of the tourist trade has to do with all things Dutch.  Windmill Island has a windmill, no surprise.  It was fascinating to learn about the history of windmills in Holland.  They were used to drain land, but they also were used to grind grain, among other things.

Old fashioned post box.

Here is the windmill.  It was brought over from Holland 40 or 50 years ago.  In pieces. We went inside and did a tour.  Totally neat, though not a trivial climb  for acrophobes (and I am one.)

A rare picture of ME.  I tend to be the one behind the camera.

Sarah, being cute.

On the way home, we moved Isaac to the back because he is so tall he was blocking people's view to the DVD player. Rose conked out for a MORNING nap after a very busy week.

The required Wendy's stop on the way home.  We rarely take all the kids to a restaurant.  For obvious reasons -- way more work than staying home and eating there.  So this was special for Daniel.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

We just got back from vacation in Michigan. I will post about the trip, but today I'm going to briefly talk about Mother's Day.

We very rarely have all the kids in one place so it was fun snapping this picture yesterday.  What a wonderful crew!

I'm reading a book by a woman whose first child was born at 24 weeks gestation.  I feel very thankful this day that I had 9 healthy pregnancies, all full term. Yes, I have had some challenges with 6 C-sections and diabetes in the mix, but I never had high blood pressure and none of our kids have serious disabilities.  It is really amazing.  I know of course that every child has value and a child with major disabilities is just as valuable as a child without challenges -- but certainly as a mom of a large family, I am VERY thankful the kids are healthy.

My mother worked with the kids to make Mother's Day cards.  They are so sweet!

And here is my Mother's Day present -- a new Kindle.  Oooh, ahhh, ooohhh, I love a new Kindle!