Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mega Family, What?

Recently, a few of my friends have called my family a mega family.  At first, I was like no we aren't that big.  You see since God blessed me with my kids, mostly, one at a time, I never realized how big we are.  It is just everyday life here.  I guess though since, we are expecting baby number thirteen, we are a pretty large family.  So, I was thinking about the questions people ask me all the time about my family.  Here are a few:

How do you do all that laundry?

One load at a time. 
Seriously, we are blessed with a great washer and dryer.  We average about three loads a day of laundry.  Right now, Jeremiah is assigned to laundry duty.  He is nine and that is a great age to start doing laundry.  Every morning after breakfast, he goes around the house gathers any dirty laundry and sorts it.  Then he puts a load in the washer, and folds any laundry from the dryer, and puts it away in the family closet.  He does a second load again after lunch, before dinner, and if needed before bed time.  If there isn't enough to do a load he just skips it, and checks at the next assigned time. 

We will re-wear our clothes if they don't get dirty or smelly, like in the winter months when you tend to stay in more.  We will reuse towels and pj's too, unless they stink.  We just hang them up each morning until they need washed.

Do you use disposable plates, diapers, etc.?

I think is funny what questions people have on their minds, I am not sure I would think of this one myself, but a lot of people do ask it.

Not often.

I don't buy paper products except toilet paper.  But if someone blesses us with them, we are so happy and grateful to use them. 
We use cloth diapers most of the time, but again if we get disposable ones as a gift or at a really good discount we will use them.  (It isn't about being green or health, those are bonuses, but for us it is about saving money.)

How do you feed everyone?

This is one of my favorites.  It cracks me up every time someone asks me it.

 Anyway,  we are frugal to say the least.  But, we are also seeking to live a healthy life, and to teach our children good eating habits.  I have been accused of being "crunchy."  So, we make a menu weekly, and stick to it.  We shop local, and no I don't coupon, but I do try and shop smart.  Our monthly food budget is $1000.  We usually stick close to it, some months even spending less.
We eat a mostly gluten free and dairy free diet, we eat fruit, veggies, and meat (we don't buy pork, and we have cut back on beef.)  We try and stick to the no processed foods rule, and read labels, if it has more than five ingredients we  usually don't buy it.  But, we are real people we do eat out on occasion, we do eat pre-packed foods on occasion, and if someone gives us food, or invites us over we never turn it down. 
When we go to the store, we know where everything we normally buy is, and we try and stick to only going to those aisles so to keep from buying things we don't need. 
We eat three meals a day, and often three small snacks as well.  Snacks are usually fruit, potato chips, or pop corn.

The kids enjoy baking and often make bread (we don't buy store bread or cereal, mostly cause of cost), cakes, cookies, candies, etc.  Someone usually makes/bakes something everyday from scratch.
We are growing our first garden this year, in the past we have enjoyed farmers markets and local farms produce, and stock up on it in the Spring and Summer.  We do apples, berries, and corn in the freezer for a year.
We enjoy meal time and eat as a family around the table for each meal.

Do you work?

Another one of my favorites.  I know what they mean is do I work outside of the home, but it always cracks me up anyway. 

No, I don't have any official job outside of home.  We are a licensed respite care provider, and often have extra children in our home, or we go to them to provided a break for their families. 

But, other than that I don't do a job that pays any money.  That is the real question.  People usually want to know if we are a one income family.  Yes, Jeremy is our sole income provider (actually Jehovah Jirah truly is).  God has blessed Jeremy with a great company to work for, and good work to do.  We are always grateful for his job, and the hard work he does at it.

Are they all yours?

What people want to know is did I give birth to all of them.  A better way to ask this question might be to ask how did God bless you with so many children. 

Sometimes when people ask me such questions I am not so polite, and say things like we stole a few.

 But, it isn't a secret that three of our children are adopted (a couple of their stories are here, Daniel, Davey, still working on Lydia's story).  It just is maddening that some people have no tact in asking nosey questions. We are very blessed to have been able to give birth to many children, and also blessed to have been able to adopt as well. 

Do you and  your husband come from big families?

Yes and No

My parents were blessed with three biological daughters, I am the middle of those three daughters.  But, they have also had the privilege to be foster parents to over 300 children over the years.  In our teen years they began adopting some of those foster children and adopted a total of 14.  Two of my siblings have gone home to be with our Lord.  But if your adding that means I am one of 15 living siblings.  We always enjoyed a full house as children, and my siblings and I are very close even now.

Jeremy is the oldest son of his parents.  He has two younger brothers.  Growing up he always had lots of cousins around to play with too.  His family is very close.

Are you Catholic?

Hehe, no. We are not Mormon either.

 We do believe God has asked us to let him decided the number of our children, and even though we have sometimes struggled to trust him in that, we are so very grateful for each and every child He has given us.

Are you going to do one of those reality shows?

No way.  This is so not me.  I have no desire to have a camera in my house and life all the time. If I did do a reality show, people would think it a comedy I am sure. 

Ok, so those are some of my favorite questions people ask me.  Most of them just make me smile and laugh.  But, maybe you have a question you are just dying to ask me.  Go ahead and ask.  I am a curious person, and totally understand.  I can't guarantee a great answer, but I can try my best.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family Closet.

Recently another homeschool asked about family closet.  So, I thought  would try and share about our family closet experience.  We decided to create a family closet a few years ago.  In the house we were living in at that time, there was a small den right next to the laundry room.  We bought some metal shelving and created a family closet in there.  When we moved from that house, we had a large walk in closet in the master bed room, so we used it as the family closet.  Then we moved into our current house.  It has three closets in the main floor mater bedroom.  We don't use the master bedroom, as a bedroom, but instead we use it for a playroom/rec room.  So, the three closets in this room is our current family closet.  Here are some pictures of our closet. 

These two closets are side by side in the play room.

Left side of closet has dad and mom's clothes, and totes holding extra clothes for current season.
One tote holds swimsuits and such.  All totes are labeled.
The shelves are movable in the closet, so when we change seasons we can adjust as needed.

 Right side of closet, up high is big kid clothes.One the very top shelf is more seasonal clothes.

Right side lower holds all little boy clothes.  We only put out enough clothes for four days on shelves.  In totes are extra seasonal clothes.  In center of closet is little buckets with socks and unders. 

This is the other closet in this same room, it is on the opposite wall.  It has seasonal coats, sweaters, or jackets.

This is the closet upstairs in my bedroom.  We just finished going through all the totes and sorting the seasonal clothes.  So the totes are not yet even put back in my closet.  We keep all the hang up formal clothes in my closet.  In these totes are off season clothes.

 Normally, they would be stacked back in the back of my closet labels out.

This is another closet upstairs and it has extra little boy clothes that have not been grown into yet.


 Okay, so here is what we have learned.

1.  Less is more. 
We keep only a few outfits out for each person. We keep the rest neatly organized it totes for easy access. 

2.  Don't wear it, don't keep it.
If something hasn't been wore by someone in months it is donated.  Most of our clothes are donated to us.  So, we are grateful, but sometimes there are pieces that just don't work for us.

3.  Keep dirty and clean apart.
It is best not to have the laundry room and the clothes closet too close together.  If they are too close then you get clean and dirty mixed up.

4.  Share it or wear it.
Most of my kids wear each others clothes, once in a while someone will have special outfit or something they bought themselves and then they don't appreciate sharing, but for the most part we just sort by sizes and sex.  Girls clothes in one area, boys in another.  Sizes under 10 low, over 10 higher.

5.  Sort by article.
We sort by pants, shorts, shirts, skirts.  We just stack them up, trying to put smaller sizes on the top of a pile.

We do not keep linens or towels in the family closet.  They have their own closet. 

This system works for us.  My kids do not keep clothes or toys in their bedrooms.  Just beds.  It makes cleaning easy. 

Please feel free to ask questions.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Extra curricular and unit studies (Final post How do you homeschool?)

Do you do extra curricular activities or other subjects?

Music, art, and physical activities:

We touch on these extras with the little ones in morning worship and in group family work out (20 minutes) after dinner each night.

Independent interest in music and art are encouraged with private lessons for students who spend a minimum of one hour a day practicing their skills without being reminded. We believe if a child is truly interested in doing something they need to show that interest before private lessons are paid for. We require all our students to study music for one year at age ten(usually we do this through HSMA). If they want to continue to study music, they must work on it without being forced to do so. If after one year they do not have an interest in it, then they are encouraged to try other things.

Sports are also only paid for if a student actively works on their own to show dedication and commitment. They must make an extra effort daily to show commitment beyond what their coach or team expects.

Independent Bible study is required of all high school students: They must do a personal study on their own and turn in weekly proof that they are doing that study. Proof can be outlines, journals, memory work, timeline, or other projects they choose.

Do you do unit studies?

Often we will do unit studies.  This year we are celebrating the Old testament Jewish holidays.  So, as each one approaches we stop our regular Bible studies, and focus in on the study of the holiday and it's meaning. 
For a couple years we did KONOS.  I still have all my KONOS and use them for resource and reference.  Great materials.
Another thing we do is one on one studies with the kids if we see they need it, or we may do small group studies with them.  An example of a one on one study is our Purity Study.  You can read  Daniel's purity post and Rachel's purity post.  Another example of a small group study is, I am currently doing a Woman of God Bible Study with my four oldest girls.

Currently I have started teaching the girls on Wednesday at 1 pm Biblical Womanhood. I am making up the material as I go, but using information for these ladies materials and others.

Time Warp Wife, this is currently my favorite blogger, I read every post she writes.  She is very encouraging.

Anne Elliot, has become one of my very best friends, even though we have never met in person, she is a real woman of God.

Proverbs 31, this ministry has been around since the beginning of the Internet, and has been a great resource for me as a woman.

Titus 2, another great site that I have benefited from for several years.

No greater Joy Ministry, great resource.

So, that is a brief write up of what we use and do for schooling at the Hirn house.  But, there is so much more than school books to what we believe is important in educating our children.  As I have said in older posts, our desire to raise Kingdom Builders for Christ is what motivates us to keep our children home and educated them differently than most people.  It is this same belief that motivates us to influence other families to raise their families in  a Godly way.  This does NOT mean that you have to homeschool.  It is our greatest desire through this blog and mentoring to help parents realize that they can and should train up their children in the Word of God. You can do this in many ways.  Next week I will try and address vital elements of a Godly Home. 
In the meantime, I want to say that a majority of our day is spent in life skills training.  Yes, I am talking about chores.  Chores and family responsibilities are a top priority in our day.  Recently, someone asked me about such things, and I wrote about it in a blog titled, Am I My brothers Keeper.

 I realize I did not touch on topics like field trips, outings, and such.  We do enjoy field trips big and small.  We always feel blessed when  a friend or family gifts us with membership passes to the zoo, science museum, etc.  We use them to the max.  We also love a day trip to a local farm, farmers market, local park, grandma's pool, etc. 

I hope this gives you some insight to what we use to do school.  I do have several different curriculum in my library, some even for sale, if any local readers want to come and visit and ask questions.  I am glad to help.  I do not think my way is the only way, but it works for us.