The current ages of our children are: 13 months, 18 months, 2, 4, 4, and 6. As you can imagine, our family gets lots of looks, double-takes and questions whenever we venture out into public. Our favorite excursion is Sam's Club for two reasons: 1) CHEAP fast food - hot pretzels, hot dogs and bottled water for everyone for $10! 2) They have a child size toilet in the family bathroom. Score for mommy. Not to mention that they have free samples and great deals on bulk food items for our ever-growing family. Ok, this isn't a commercial for Sam's... back on track. FAQ's - some are considerate, some are ignorant, but they are all an excellent opportunity to share what God is doing in our lives.
1) Are they all yours? "Yes, we're very blessed. 3 of them are biological and 3 are our foster children."
2) Wow. How do you get anything done? "The Lord helps me every day." To be more specific though, a couple years ago, I developed a great desire to simplify our lives by getting rid of excess. Much of what we did was taken from the wonderful book, Simplicity Parenting. I even did a blog on it awhile back. To look back and see why the Lord put that desire on my heart is awe-inspiring. Without simplifying the way we did, we NEVER would have been able to parent 6 kids in this 1200sqft house. I don't have a lot of toys out, so the clean up is nothing and the older kids do a lot of that before bed. While packing up to move, we even have less toys out and it's incredible to see that the less toys the kids have to play with, the more entertained they are. They always end up congregating in whichever room has the least amount of toys and they create their own world in there with blankets and boxes. The imaginative play is never-ending over here. With that being said, the 4 oldest kids play most of the day with each other while I do household chores. My two 1year-olds try their hardest to keep up with them. Sometimes I just sit on the couch and ask for hugs, but they are all too busy playing to give mama some lovin'! :)
3) How do you homeschool? Technically, I only have one school age child right now, Brighton. He is an extremely motivated self-led learner and is exceeding expectations for his age in all subjects. Whenever the three youngest are napping, the three oldest sit down at the kitchen table and do worksheets, dry erase workbooks and/or arts and crafts for an hour or so. My favorite educational tools are computer programs though. Our favorites right now are Reading Eggs and ABCmouse. They are constantly being played by either Brighton (6), Maggie (4) or Miss A (4). Owen (2) tries really hard to play too and probably could if he could figure out how to stop clicking the right mouse button instead of the left. Anyone know how to disable that?? Starting this fall, Brighton will be in 1st and Maggie and Miss A will be in Pre-K. I have enrolled them in an online charter school called, Epic One on One. It is considered an Oklahoma public school and is fully-funded by the state, so we get all our curriculum and school supplies provided for us for FREE, but they do all their school at home. Pretty cool. I'm really excited about it and hope it works out well for all of us. If we end up with school age foster children, this will make it much easier to persuade DHS to let us homeschool them as well.
4) How do you get ALL your kids to go to sleep at 6pm every night? This is one thing that has somewhat happened naturally and we just went with it. It takes very little effort on our part. My bio kids have always been "early to bed, early to rise" and their natural bedtime is 6 or 7pm unless they take a nap. They generally wake up at 6am, which gives Daddy some time with them before work. The 3 youngest take an hour and a half nap in the morning and then they are all exhausted by 6pm and can barely keep their eyes open. Very rarely do we have anyone awake at 7pm.
5) How do you ever have time for yourself or your husband? This one ties directly into the question above. If we didn't have such an early bedtime for the kids, we would NOT be sane people. This gives us at least 3 hours to decompress every night. I try to make sure and clean the kitchen while the kids are awake so that when the kids are asleep it is "me time." We honestly have more down time with 6 kids than we had with 3. God is so good.
6) Last but not least, Are you a glutton for punishment? Yep, multiple people have seriously asked me this question. One of these days, I'm not going to be shell-shocked when someone asks and I'm going to have an awesome answer to reply back. This is what I would say if I had time to think before I spoke, "No, not at all, but I am a glutton for the least of these, who God commands us over and over again in the Bible to take care of. HE called us to this mission field and HE equips us every day with the energy, patience and love to parent these amazing children who bless us incredibly more than we could ever think about blessing them." Boo-yah. :)
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27