We have been unbelievably busy lately. Besides our regular activities–school, playdates, church–we traveled out-of-state for a funeral last weekend and we’re driving to MS to visit my parents on Friday. I really do intend to do a long catch-up post as soon as possible… Right now, I’m just putting up a quick update as I wait for grammar worksheets to print. I am finding out all over again that it’s entirely possible to be at home all day with nothing scheduled except school and STILL be so busy! :-/
On a lighter note, Sara Grace is five months old today. June 9 seems so much longer ago than just five months; as Lauren said sweetly just a few minutes ago, “Mommy, I love my little sister, I can’t remember when she wasn’t here.” And it’s true… twelve children is the perfect number. With Sara Grace, the W. family feels complete. I would love another child, but those days are coming to an end… and that’s fine, too. And after all, my oldest is sixteen– before too many years have passed, there might be grandchildren around!
Well, the schoolwork has finished printing…
Yesterday John was off work and wanted to take the kids somewhere. He decided on Amicalola Falls–the same place we went to visit our camping friends–and headed off mid-morning with six of my healthy kids in tow [we've had something going around the past few weeks--today, we're down to only two sick, so hopefully this is the end]. I stayed home with the two youngest and four sick. The kids came home raving about the pretty weather and their great time. They had a picnic, climbed the falls, and played in the stream– “Just like when we went camping!”
I’ve finally figured out how to embed pictures in the post, so here are a few shots from the falls, compliments of Lindsay.
I know they had a great time!
Steven just told me that Christmas is exactly two months from today. And I realized–he’s right! Where has our year gone? It seems like just yesterday that summer was beginning, with the kids excited about the pool opening, having only “half-school”, and a new baby. Now, that new baby is almost five months old!
Sara Grace is doing so well. Everyone loves her; at reading time, she is passed from one eager sibling to another. Her face looks exactly like Lauren’s did when she was a baby. It’s mainly the eyes–wide and blue–that make up the resemblance.
One last funny moment from the other day. I walked into the basement to find Lindsay doing math. She was supposed to use a calculator for one problem. Our calculator is solar-powered, and it was dark in the basement–so Lauren was shining a flashlight at the calculator’s solar panel while Lindsay used it to work the problem. That’s the way to do it ;-)
[Written last night]
Earlier this week, I was out running errands with a few of the kids [Lauren, Carrie, Sara Grace, and Steven]. We had a doctor’s appointment at 12:30, then made some stops on the way home. At one store as we walked down the bread aisle, we were stopped by a sweet elderly lady who commented on the girls’ and my matching skirts and shirts. She then turned to Steven.
“You must feel a bit left out sometimes, being the only boy,” she said with a knowing wink. “I had five brothers growing up–all older except for one.”
“Oh, but I’m not the only boy, ma’am,” Steven hastened to say. “I have five brothers–they’re just at home.”
“Is that so? You know, there are such benefits to living in a large family. I know what it’s like: besides my five brothers, I have seven children and ten grandbabies. People think having many children is harder, but in many ways, it’s easier.”
That lady was so right–and sometimes, I need a reminder of those benefits. I decided I’d list some of the best ones here.
1. There are always eager, willing helpers to be found. Whether they’re pulling weeds, loading the dishwasher, or playing with the baby, my little ones are always ready to help.
2. Older girls do everything. You cannot imagine how much of a help Rhonda and Carrie are to me! They are constantly cooking, ironing, dusting, vacuuming, teaching the littles, and saying, “I’ll do that, Mom; you go sit down with the baby.” And Lindsay, who turned twelve last April, is starting to lean more and more towards adulthood, as well. Often she will forego a game of Indians or hide-and-seek to help cook dinner, even if it’s not her job that day. Thank you, girls!!
3. The kids always have someone to play with. I think the only time I’ve ever heard one of my children say they’re bored was last spring when eight of mine were out with John. Micah and Lauren had stayed home because they were too young to go, and Jackson because he had had a bad attitude that day. Games are constantly going on in and out of our house. Indians, trucks, tea parties, hide-and-seek, pillow fights, tag… the list is endless!
4. We almost never have to buy new clothes. The children’s clothes are passed down from one to another until they simply wear out. When the boys’ jeans are too ripped-up for them to wear any longer, we hit the thrift stores.
5. Jobs get done fast. With two parents, ten hard workers, and two littles who sit and watch, we can accomplish nearly any job in a timely manner. Note the word “nearly”–there are some jobs that just can’t be done.
Example: It’s been raining a lot the past few days. Someone left the lid off of our sandbox, and it filled to the brim with water. Yesterday, I looked out the window and saw Steven directing four of his younger siblings in filling various containers with water from the sandbox and dumping the water in the yard.
“It doesn’t seem like this is working!” Jackson complained after a while. “There’s always more water. It all soaked into the sand.”
Eventually, they gave up and ran off to play–leaving the sandbox lid off. You can guess what the weather is like tonight.
6. Along the same lines: We can work together and accomplish a lot. Earlier today, we were rushing to finish school before my sister Kathryn and her three kids came over at 12:00. Lindsay played with Sara Grace, leaving me free to read to Micah, Thomas, Lauren, and Jayne. Rhonda helped George and Jackson finish their grammar, while Mark read his science book and Carrie and Steven made lunch.
There are many more, too… but I won’t bore you with any more stories from our family’s past. One last note from today: Fall is finally here, and the weather is beyond perfect. Off for a walk we go!
Jayne: “After I finish my regular handwriting page can I do shaggy letters?”
Me: “What are shaggy letters?”
Jayne: “You know–like this” making a few messy letters in the margin of her paper
No, I do not want you to start using “shaggy” letters!
Before I start this post, I want to put a quick note about pictures: I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve never posted any pictures on my blog. A year or two ago, I posted several pictures online and someone took and misused them. Since then, I’ve been wary of putting pictures online–especially since my sister Kathryn recently had a similar experience that forced her to deactivate her Facebook account.
I’ve decided that I’ll start posting pictures on my blog–but only of things. None of my kids, husband, or myself–not yet, at least. [You probably wouldn't want to see a picture of me anyway.]
So… with that, here are some pictures from today. ;-)
When I first wrote this, it was my intention to post several photos and put text in-between each one. Then, I found out that you can’t do that. All the pictures have to be together; you can type above or below them, but not in-between.
Well. I was quite frustrated when I found that out. That changed my plans; I had been counting on being able to type between the pictures. But you can’t, they’re all together. Also, they’re small–you have to click on them before they will enlarge. It works fine then, you can see all the details, but you’re just looking at the pictures–not at the text.
Just consider this a test post. I may post more pictures, or… I may not.
Top two pictures: At Thomas’s request, Rhonda made a tote bag for him so he could easily carry small toys around the house.
Bottom two pictures: A page of Lindsay’s science test.
Why did I post a picture of my child’s schoolwork?
I’m glad you asked.
To complain about it!!
Please don’t get me wrong: I love my kids, I love teaching them school, and–most of the time–they complete their schoolwork with incredible diligence.
Most of the time.
Barring my two oldest and three youngest, my children do this often. They will come across a math problem or grammar or science question that looks hard. Then instead of working to figure it out, they will write “Help please” or “I can’t do it” or “How do you multiply fractions again?” Later, when I’m checking their work, I find it and go over it with them. Usually, they can figure out the answer right off the bat.
“Oh, I divide and then it comes out eight,” they will say. Or, “I didn’t know that word was a preposition.” Or, “Well, I couldn’t do it a minute ago.”
Really–you couldn’t? Because you figured it out fine just now!
On Lindsay’s science test, she wrote in answer to the third question: “I don’t know–am I trying to get it down to a certain point? How much shielding is needed?” There was a graph on the paper that she could have looked at and easily found the answer–but she didn’t.
About an hour later I was going over her science test with her. We got to question #3 and she quickly said, “I didn’t know the answer, can you please help me?”
I knew she could figure it out if she just tried for a minute. “Well, I could, but I think you can find the answer if you look hard enough. I’m going to go change Sara Grace, and I’ll be right back.”
I had just stepped into the bedroom when Lindsay came skipping after me: “Six millimeters, Mama!”
Well, that was easy.
You really couldn’t have done that the first time?
But don’t even get me started on WordPress…
Funny things some of my kids have said recently [recently meaning the past year or so]. You will notice most of them are from Thomas, he is the one who is constantly cracking us up!
Thomas was telling one of my older daughters earlier this year about sea turtles: “Perfume from cars gets blown into sand at the beach and turtles eat it and that’s how they get distinct.”
Jayne telling a story to Rhonda: “Once we were playing, probably like the day after yesterday…”
A few weeks ago I was telling Lauren how, when I was little, my mom used to “let” me sit out on the patio when my hair was wet from having a bath. Lauren said in all seriousness, “Yes, they didn’t have towels back then.”
A few months ago when we saw my parents, we decided to go for a walk/bike ride/scooter ride. My Dad rode a bike (for the first time in 40 years) while the kids rode their own bikes and scooters. Referring to my Dad, Lindsay said, “After a few minutes, he wasn’t wobbly at all!”
A couple of weeks ago Lauren decided to try out the higher of the two swings in our backyard. She started swinging by herself and was very proud of herself. Then she commented that when she grows up she will be too big for that swing set. Instead of bursting her bubble and telling her that she won’t even be living with us when she grows up, I just listened. She finally decided that when she’s a grown-up we will just have to get a bigger swing set.
One morning this spring we were leaving the house early to take the car to the shop. Thomas had been asking me the night before what time he needed to get up, etc. etc. He tends to wake up very early in the morning–6:00 to 6:30–so we made a rule earlier this year that he couldn’t get up until there was a 7 on the clock in the boys’ room. I reminded him that he can get up when there is a 7 on his clock. He asked me if it would be light (in the living room) then and I said yes, because I would be up.
When I walked out into the living room the next morning (a few minutes late) at 7:06 he was standing there in the dark, holding a small flashlight. He had shined it toward our cat Marmy (who was sleeping on the back of the couch) and the wall and said she looked like a “big, fierce, watch cat”. I guess her shadow on the wall was big.
A few weeks ago Thomas came out at 7:04 and told me, “A bad thing happened last night–the clock never ever turned to a 7, so I just went ahead and got up.” I knew he had been in the bathroom for a few minutes so I walked back to the boys’ room with him to see why his clock hadn’t turned to a 7. It was 7:04. I told him that it wasn’t that his clock didn’t turn to a 7, but that he got tired of waiting for it and got up before it turned. I heard him at 6:30 that morning so he must have laid in bed forever waiting for 7:00 to come.
One Sunday in April our pastor and Thomas were both wearing navy blue suits with ties. Our pastor told Thomas that they looked just alike. He said, “You could sit in my chair and they would never know it wasn’t me.” Thomas replied, “Except you have gray hair and I have brown hair.” If it had been anybody else I would have been mortified, but our wonderful pastor just laughed and agreed with him.
One day we were talking about Thomas’s Sunday School story–Noah’s Ark. John asked Thomas what God put in the sky after the flood and Thomas, without a moment’s hesitation answered, “cowboys”.
Jackson [at six]–”I don’t want to have eyebrows because they stick to me. I want to take them off.”
Thomas–Recently I made pancakes for dinner and he was so excited. He said, “Why did you say we could have pancakes?” and then later he said, “They’re really good and I thank you for making them.” Then after dinner it was, “Mom, I’m really thanking you for the pancakes.”
Jayne– A month or two ago Rhonda recruited her to help with the dusting and she was so excited. “This is my first dusting experience. I like to help get the job done.”
Thomas was packing a backpack when preparing to go hiking He said, “I could take my flashlight. You never know when dark caves might sneak up on you.”
We were at the pet store one day and saw a man walking his dog. Lindsay, who can identify every dog breed there is said “Look, there is an Australian Shepherd!” George promptly replied, “Yes, and he has a dog too!”
And more to come…
Last weekend, my ten oldest went camping with some friends of ours who were visiting from AL. I stayed home with John, Micah, and Sara Grace; however, we did go for a short visit on Saturday, which was very nice. I decided to ask Lindsay if she would write a summary of their time, and she agreed with pleasure. Here it is!
Some of our best friends, a homeschool family with seven kids, live in Alabama. Mama met them thirteen years ago; we had just moved to the neighborhood we live in now, and their house was about a block away from ours. Unfortunately, they moved to Alabama when I was five–seven years ago. We usually try to see them about twice a year. They almost always come to Georgia to camp at Amicalola Falls in September; this was the case last weekend. This year, they invited us to sleep over with them last Friday night.
These are the children’s names and ages so you’ll know who I’m talking about: Elizabeth, 16, Stephen, 12, Abigail, 10, Daniel, 8, Timothy, 7, Joseph, 5, and Lydia,1. Last Saturday was actually Stephen’s 12th birthday, so we got to celebrate that with him. (I’ll call their parents Mr. John and Mrs. Sharon, even though that’s not what we call them in real life.)
We didn’t find out what was happening until Thursday afternoon, and of course, we were all very excited. When we get together with this family, everyone has someone to be with. Elizabeth, Rhonda, and Carrie are together; Mark and Stephen; Abigail and I; Steven, George, Jackson, Thomas, Daniel, Timothy, and Joseph; and, well, Jayne and Lauren and Micah are kind of by themselves. They either play with Lydia, or tag along with Abigail and I, or Rhonda and Carrie and Elizabeth, or else just stay with Mama.
But I’m sorry if this is getting boring; I’ll tell you everything we did now.
On Friday morning we worked very fast to finish our school. We usually have an hour of outside time that’s inbetween breakfast and Bible time, but we decided to skip that. We had to finish school early so we would have time to pack our clothes and things and drive up there, since we had to be there at 3:00. After we got there and put all our things away in the tents, we played in the woods for awhile. That’s what we LOVE to do, all of us except the big girls and littlest ones–is a combination of playing outside and exploring in the woods, spying on the white people (which is the moms, usually) and playing Indians. We made up our Indian language with them a few years ago.
Abigail and I explored in the woods and found a stream, but it was more like a puddle. We could hear running water though, so we kept going until we found a little waterfall! We were so tired, so we went back to the campsite to rest. But the boys–all nine of them, who up until then had been playing nicely by themselves (they had formed something called the YBG, or Young Boys’ Group)–wanted to know where the stream was! So we had to go back through the woods and show them. Mr. John and Jayne came too.
We played Indians then, all of us together, until it was time for dinner. We had a fire, but we didn’t cook anything on it–we were doing that the next day. We just had sandwiches and beans and salad and things like that.
Then we sat by the fire, and talked, and then the boys decided they wanted to make a hammock in the woods. (It was only starting to be dark.) Abigail and I wanted to make one too, but we only had one quilt. So we just took turns tying the knots. We tied up each corner of the hammock with rope. Then Mark and Stephen tried to tie the rope onto trees, since they’re the tallest, but the hammock still dragged the ground when someone sat in it so Mr. John came and did it for us.
We talked a while more, and then Mr. John got out sparklers and Mrs. Sharon brought out cookies. After a little bit, we went to the bathrooms to clean up and put on pajamas. Then we fixed our beds. It took a LONG time–getting ready for bed, and making our beds. It was nineteen beds that had to be made. And then, after we prayed and lay down, we still talked for a long time. But finally we were asleep.
The next morning we had chocolate cinnamon rolls for Stephen’s birthday. He turned 12. We got to eat them in our pajamas! Then we went to get dressed and ready for a hike. We wanted to hike before it got too hot. Everyone except Mrs. Sharon, Elizabeth, Rhonda, Lauren, Joseph, and Lydia came; they stayed at the campsite.
When we got back from climbing up the falls–it was very pretty, but tiring, and it did take a while–Mama, Daddy, Micah, and Sara Grace were there. And then our Aunt Kathryn, Uncle Michael, and cousins Hailey, Joshua, and Emma came, too! That part was a surprise to us.
We got to stay until almost 4:00. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for lunch, played in the woods, and played in a stream.
I was going to write a few more lines, but I am helping lunch today and it’s almost time to go do it. (I got to write this during schooltime!) So I hope you enjoyed this, and we had a very great time camping!