I am sitting here having an argument with Frog (yes, two-year-old Frog) about which twin is which. He is insisting that Leaf is Twig and Twig is Leaf.
Almost everyone at this point thinks they are identical. But I still don't.
A couple weeks ago Frog started taking off his diaper and sitting on the potty.
It has been my strict policy over the years not to try to potty train my kids until after their third birthday. None of them have been remotely ready before then.
So I took Frog to the store and bought him a package of underwear with Charlie Brown and Snoopy on it. Frog likes Peanuts.
And it's been so easy. I have never had a kid who caught on to potty training even remotely as quickly as Frog. He's got it down. He has even been dry at night.
You still have to remind him to go, and if I forget to do that we have accidents, but that's normal.
I really feel that this is a tender mercy of the Lord. I am barely keeping my nose above water right now with twins and eight kids and homeschool. Plus, money is tight and a little savings on diapers is welcome (I also recently stopped buying pull-ups for Peanut to wear to bed at night and so far, so good.) So it is a relief to have a child potty train early and quickly.
Frog is a remarkable little boy. I sure love him.
Here's my diary entry for this evening. It's just one of those that's pretty indicative of my current life so I thought I would share.
I spent the morning working on homeschool planning on the computer while encouraging the children to locate the missing overdue library books. It took them all morning but they finally found everything except one Hank the Cowdog CD. So we headed off to the library right after lunch. I only took six kids with me; I left Bean home with Twig. Let me tell you, six kids is a piece of cake. Especially if there's only one baby.
Fish has been wanting to watch National Treasure, so I checked it out from the library. Then I let the little kids get a Richard Scarry DVD. That's how I got a nap: the boys rocked Leaf to sleep and watched National Treasure, the younger kiddos watched the kid's movie and I slept for an hour with Twig.
Then it was off to football practice. I decided to go to the store and get the few things I needed and then go back to practice and wait the last hour there... it was such a lovely evening and there were plenty of kids running around that looked like they would be fun for my kids to play with. At one point I had to go hunting for a missing Rabbit, only to find her high up in a tree. So they had fun, and I met another mom who was nice and held one of the twins for me.
When I got home we worked on straightening up the house because of course it was a wreck as usual. I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor because I was tired of it being so nasty. I sweep daily and mop fairly often but there are all these little stuck-on bits that just don't come off unless you scrub them with a scrubber. Now my kitchen floor looks fantastic. I need to do the dining room next (ran out of steam) and I need to scrub more often (and teach the kids to do it!)
I have been feeling overwhelmed by the approach of the new homeschool year this year (something about having to teach four grades at once while simultaneously caring for four small children and keeping semi-order around my house and preparing food for ten people three times a day....)
But I am trying. So I sat down Sunday and looked at the calendar. I remembered a suggestion I heard a few years ago: six week chunks of school followed by a one week break. Like the six days of creation followed by a day of rest. Six of those terms and you have a 180-day school year. It sounds good to me this year. So I put it up against the calendar and tried to align things to my satisfaction. I found that in order for the breaks to fall where I want them, we need to start school August 24th. Ugh. I am not ready. I wanted to wait another week or two. But my desire to have the predictability of the "six weeks on, one week off" outweighs this. My kids need as much structure as I can possibly give them.
I am therefore in full-blown Homeschool Planning Mode, and my house is crumbling around me as I turn to the computer every spare moment I have to try to get everything ready by Monday.
My enthusiasm goes up and down. When I am online looking at curriculum and planning how we are going to do things, I am super excited. When I start to think about how we have very little money to buy curriculum this year and can really only buy the stuff we absolutely need, or when I start thinking about how my brilliant plans for a daily schedule always come unraveled as life gets in the way especially with my very needy and screamy little ones, and of course my highly un-motivated older kids take any excuse to run for the hills the minute I am distracted, and I have to fight a thousand battles just to get the kids to learn a little bit of the stuff in the awesome curriculum I find, then I feel weary and discouraged. Oh no, here we go again, I say. Do I have to do this?
I can tell you that I would NOT do this if I didn't think it was what the Lord wanted for my children. I promise I don't do this because it's fun and easy. But I can tell you that I know that it is what He wants me to do. And so I will muster up all the excitement and energy I can, I will fight the discouragement and feelings of failure, and I will do my very very best to give my kids the best education I can. I know what a good education looks like and I know I can teach them so much, as much as they will let me.
I think the adversary hits homeschooling moms pretty hard at the beginning of the school year, and I know that many of the feelings I am having (discouraged, tired, overwhelmed, daunted, etc.) do not come from God. And so I am choosing to go on and to trust Him, that He will open up a way even when it seems impossible. That what I am doing will be enough even though I am so often sure that it isn't. I am still struggling with these feelings, but that's understandable: the war we fought in Heaven before we came to earth continues here every day in our minds. I can expect to have to fight off the thoughts fed to me by the little imp on my shoulder. But I know that I have an angel on my other shoulder, and in fact I have angels all round about me to bear me up. I have felt them and I pray daily for their continued assistance.
And so we go forward! Here's to a great school year! Remember that by small and simple things great things are brought to pass.
I have to tell you a story about those peach pies I made that I mentioned in my last post. We ate one that Saturday night. Our fridge was jam-packed, so I put the other pie in the little fridge upstairs in our bedroom. I figured it would make a great treat for Family Home Evening on Monday night.
That Monday afternoon Bean went upstairs for something and pretty soon I hear "Mom!" As I was hurrying up the stairs I figured Peanut and Frog were at it again... those two are absolutely unbelievable when they are together... what did they destroy this time? When Bean motioned me into my room I suddenly knew: the pie. I prepared myself for the worst.
The fridge had little white smears of whipped cream on it, the kind made by tiny fingers. When I opened the fridge, I saw a pie with a chunk of whipped cream missing and a plastic Schleich princess in a green dress standing next to the pie. I also saw that they had been using Mr. Potato Head's ear as a spoon.
I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that I had to lie down on the floor and beat my fists on the carpet. The sudden inclination to laugh surprised me as much as it surprised Bean. He has seen me get mad at Peanut and Frog's escapades a few times. So he expected me to get upset. I am not sure why I didn't: maybe because it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (the pie was far from ruined), maybe it was the plastic princess standing over the pie in her regal green dress, or maybe, just maybe I am getting a little better at handling things with the kids.
Kids are an incredible course in self-improvement. They will stretch you in ways you didn't even know you could stretch. For example, I did not think I had a problem with anger before I had kids... I was seldom angry, and when I was I was usually pretty calm about it. I wasn't much of one to yell or fly off the handle. Heh heh. Now I have the temptation to yell or fly off the handle almost every minute of every day. I cave in to that temptation more than I would like. However, what my kids don't usually see and what I hope someday they will understand, is that there are lots of small, private victories: times where I could have yelled but that I chose to speak softly or to laugh instead. And even though I am far from where I want to be, I am gradually improving.
I personally think the self-improvement course you get from having children is the best thing that can happen to a person. I hope to come out of it much improved.
I am sitting here nursing a baby so I thought I would talk to my blog a little bit. I spend a lot of time nursing babies, as you can imagine. Sometimes I look around at the mess while I'm nursing and feel frustrated that I never serm to be able to get anything done. Sometimes I am grateful for the chance to put my feet up and not do anything house-related for awhile. And always I am grateful for the chance to snuggle a sweet baby.
We have been doing frequent weight checks at the doctor because of the twins' small size, especially Twig. The doctor is very reassured by Twig's general good health and age-appropriate development, but we both feel it is prudent to keep a close eye on the situation. Twig still weighs less than 13 pounds, but she is gaining slowly.
Both the Badger and I did a lot of cooking today. He made four loaves of bread and a huge batch of spaghetti for dinner. I made a double batch of banana bread and two peach pies... we had bought a case of peaches and they were all suddenly on the verge of going bad, so yesterday the Badger peeled and sliced them all and stuck them in the fridge. Today we needed fridge space so we needed to do something with the huge tub of peaches. Fresh peach pie seemed like a good idea. Don't be too impressed: I made graham cracker crusts. Roo and her neighbor friend Grace helped me. It was fun to cook with them.
Anyway, that all ought to hold us for a couple of days, maybe. Food disappears quickly around here, so it's a good thing that both the Badger and I love to cook and bake.
Bean is playing football this season. Practices started this week. I didn't feel good about other opportunities for him to play as I investigated them earlier in the summer, but then this one came up and finally something felt right. It's so good to see him working hard and getting in better shape. And between his massive size and his experience, he is quite an asset to his team. Getting him to and from all the practices is a bit of a strain on our family, but I think it is very much worth it. And I am looking forward to some exciting football games!
Now I just have to find the right things for my other kids to do this fall.