Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

How We Do Life

I think it’s fascinating how so very different each family is. Their traditions, their way of operating, and just the way they roll. It really got me thinking about how our family does life, how WE roll. Our family is not perfect. No family is. We have numerous flaws, oddities, and times we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and vow to do better. We’re all different….and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

This is how we do life:

God is the center of our home. Everything revolves around that—our marriage, our parenting, everything else.

We say please and thank you. Even Mom and Dad do this, even with something as insignificant as passing the salt. Manners are important and show respect.

Family dinner is a high priority, and we always pray before we eat together. It’s just not the same when we all have to grab something and rush out the door, or when someone is missing. This is where we share about our day, the highs and lows, and just hang out for a time.

We expect good behavior. I am not a yeller–never have been, probably never will be. And no, I wasn’t really into “time outs” when the kids were little. There may have been an occasional swat on the backside when deliberate misbehavior happened. My kids aren’t angels, but they certainly aren’t brats either. I have no explanation for this, other than that they are just expected to behave!

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We love to read. Yes, all 7 of us. There is no secret technique or formula that we used when our kids were little, except that we read to them a lot and they saw us reading for pleasure. It caught on, and it warms my heart to see them all devouring books.

We try not to overschedule ourselves. This is such a balancing act once everyone gets to a certain age, and right now we’re in the thick of it. Each child is in at least one activity. However, we are deliberate about not being too busy and will say “no thanks” to things that will make for an overly hectic week.

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We have a minimum of technology in our house. Seven people, one laptop. No personal Ipads, Ipods, tablets or anything. (Our oldest did get a very basic cell phone for his 15th birthday.) They ask before they use the computer, and if playing games on it, a timer is usually set.

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We try not to be materialistic. We have learned to live on one income, and live well on it. Secondhand clothes are just fine by us, as well as older vehicles and a not-big house. Christmas and birthdays usually are simple. Things aren’t too important, but people are.

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We serve others as best as we can. My husband is the prime example for this and is literally one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. My parents are also great examples of this. I have become better at this as an adult (I think), but there’s always room for improvement. It is a joy to serve together, especially when it’s something the whole family can do.

Vacation and time away together is important to us. No, they are usually not fancy affairs, but that’s okay. We shoot for one week in the summer, just us, away from all of our usual stresses and things that pull for our attention. We’re not into overly crowded, “touristy” places. Give us a cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere and we are usually happy campers.

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We try to foster curiosity and a love for learning. I would label my husband and I as self-starters, or perhaps “self-motivated” people. We enjoy learning new things and encourage that in our kids. There is currently a continual pile of books on the couch, homemade contraptions or inventions in nearly every room, a plant cart in my living room, and a cricket farm and “lab” in my basement. No, our house is never picture perfect, but that’s okay with me. There’s a lot of love here and I’ll not squelch their innate curiosity. (Though too much clutter and mess does make me crazy.)

We are foodies. Kind of. My husband and I entered marriage in a unique situation—that is, we both knew how to cook. I do the majority of cooking during the week as I am the “at home” parent, and he does some meals on the weekends. We don’t eat out a whole lot as it gets wicked expensive for 7 people! Plus homemade is healthier. We have taught each kid various cooking skills, so hopefully they know how to fend for themselves once they grow up. As I’ve said before, to their future spouses: You’re Welcome.

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We try to be real. It’s interesting that my oldest, now in high school, is so very perceptive of “fake” people. I can’t stand it either, and hopefully I never come across that way. (You have permission to call me out on it if I do! Or slap me.) Like I said earlier, we are real. We are flawed. We are human.

Well folks, that’s how we do life around here. Each family has their own ways, and that’s cool. So now if you suspected that we were weird before, you got your confirmation by reading this!

Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Reasons to Love Living in a Little House

Some days my house drives me nuts. Usually it’s on the days when all my kids are underfoot. It just seems that when everyone is home, we simply are low on space. But are we really? People living in many other countries would probably think I live in something akin to a mansion. By US standards, it’s certainly no mansion, but I am learning to love and be content in my little house. You see, I don’t take the concept of contentment lightly. Like probably many of you, I have struggled with contentment, wrestled with it even, many times. The world out there shouts out to us in so many ways about what we “need”–and of course it has to be bigger, better, faster, fancier, etc. Once upon a time, when we first purchased our home, it really did feel like a palace. Of course there were only 2 of us living here then–now there are 7 bodies living here! That is a huge difference. I have found that when I struggle with contentment, not just with my home, but with other things as well, I have to ask God to help me with this issue in a big way. I pray for Him to give me the contentment in my heart that I so desparately need. And guess what? Mercifully, I do receive it, and usually in a big way. I find myself looking at my surroundings and situations through the lens of thankfulness. Thankful for what I DO have, which is a whole lot–a lot of which I really do not deserve, but God has provided for me anyway. So, in the spirit of thankfulness, here are the reasons why I enjoy my little house:

* Less to clean.

Given some time with no little people underfoot, or just with little people occupied, I can seriously clean my home top to bottom in less than 2 hours. Or, if I feel particularly energetic, less time than that. You gotta love that.

* Lower mortgage.

My Pop-Pop used to use the term “house-poor” or “car-poor” in reference to someone who bought a house or vehicle that is way beyond their means. We were fortunate enough to buy our home 12 years ago, right before house prices in our area went throught the roof. Even then we chose a home that wasn’t at the top end of what we could have spent and went for a 20-year mortgage. There have been many months when I have been so thankful that our mortgage isn’t some crazy amount. As a bonus, it will be paid off before our oldest is out of high school.

* Lower utilities and maintenence costs.

Yes, I have been known to complain about my electric bill or heating costs. However, the bigger the house, the more it costs to heat and maintain.

* Less room to clutter.

I have just spent the morning de-cluttering my house, or as I more fondly call it, de-junking. Should I not do this on a regular basis, I can’t imagine the piles that would accumulate. With 7 people in our home, it forces me to keep the clutter to a minumum. It also forces me to be more organized!

* More togetherness.

As I confessed earlier, this does make me crazy sometimes. However, it is also conducive to having to get along with one another. Yes, my kids have their share of arguments and squabbles. On the whole, though, they usually play together and are creative in coming up with all types of pretend games. We have a 3 bedroom Cape-Cod style home. 1 bedroom is for Mom and Dad, the smallest upstairs bedroom is for Heidi and doubles as a home office. The 3rd and largest bedroom is shared by all 4 of our boys. Rarely do they complain about sharing a room and even though we have beds for everyone, they still choose to sleep together many nights and enjoy just being close. I have heard the expression “Love grows in little houses” and I have found that to be true.

I’m sure I could come up with more items in this list, but these are the main points I wanted to share. If you also live in a smaller home, I commend you. If you live in a bigger home, don’t worry, I’m certainly not berating you in any way. The reason I am posting this is because I wanted to share my own struggles with contentment and how God has helped me to be thankful for everything I have, the big things and the little things. Also, a house is just that–a house. It’s who is in it that makes it a home 🙂