We will, Deo volente

August 24th, 2010

Ready or not, our academic year has now officially begun!

The children celebrated by camping out the past few nights.

I’m more ready for the new school year than I was last week, because of Verity’s recently acquired habit of sleeping through the night! Woooo-hooo! Does she have a apt sense of timing, or what?!  I don’t consider it official until a baby has done it for three consecutive nights, and she accomplished that by her eight week birthday on Saturday.  The past few nights, I’ve been able to get 5 1/2 hours’ sleep.  She has been restless in the night due to her congestion, but she hasn’t been waking up enough to want to eat as she had been from the time we came home from her surgery.  My body has been gobbling up the extra sleep and begging for more in a most greedy and ungrateful manner!

But the first day of school approached quickly and Verity’s care was still taking 1 1/2 to 2 hours out of every 3 throughout the day.  It became clear that our family was not “getting back to normal.”  We’re not moving back, anyway, we’re moving forward!  Hence my Help Wanted ad a few days ago.  What would our new normal need to look like?

Our whole family will be benefiting from the combined experience of almost a dozen moms who took time to look at our circumstances with fresh eyes and brainstorm some strategies for us.  I gleaned some valuable thoughts from every one of you.  Yes, even those of you who were self-deprecating and said that you probably weren’t much help!  And I have been truly blessed by the kindness in your tone toward me.  Thank you all!

~The underlying Biblical principle that we will be working from is that the members of our family who are bigger, stronger, and more capable have a responsibility to serve the members who are smaller, weaker, and needier. We will give the most helpless ones the highest priority, and so on from there.  We will continue to do all we can to safeguard my milk supply and help Verity move off the NG tube.  We will plan deliberate learning and training times into the four little boys’ day.

~We’re starting with the basic subjects, and will add in the rest of them as we gain proficiency in our new routine.  We’ll save the more involved projects for later, as well.  Keepin’ it simple for now.

~Joseph (11th grade) and Daniel (10th grade) will be counting hours (990) instead of days (180) this year.  This will enable them to be more flexible in crediting their work toward the state requirements.

~The four oldest will each have one day of the week to be “on call.”  This doesn’t mean a day off, it means that they will expect to fit their studies around helping with their four little brothers on that day.  I will do my best to utilize their help only during times I am unavailable, for instance, when making any necessary phone calls, showering, or pumping.

~Joseph and Daniel will learn how to teach some academics to the little ones this year, so I’ll be making opportunities to train them to my picky standards.  They have already had Lesson One: The Three Main Objectives for Our Preschool Program.

~Joshua and Laura will be in charge of the little guys’ phys ed.  Joshua also enjoys doing nature studies with them.  Because of this, we may move Joshua and Laura’s “on call” days around to appropriate the best weather.  Of course, the little ones get an abundance of free play time outdoors.

~Friday will continue to be Reading Day, as it has been for many years at our house.  For part of that day, Jane will entertain the four little ones by reading aloud to them under my watchful eye, killing the proverbial two birds with the proverbial one stone.

~We will utilize the playroom to provide quiet studying space in the mornings for the older children who are not on call that day.

~We’re looking for a one-piece desk for Jane to use in her room, so that she will be close by and more accountable to me when I am upstairs.

~We are working on expanding our repertoire of preschooler activities.  Last time we did that was two years ago when we had 1 1/2 year old twins and a 2 1/2 year old.  Now Stephen is the only one in that age category, and the other three have outgrown many of the activities.  I found a wealth of ideas on this website, scribbled down thirty or so that would suit our family, and on Saturday Joe went hunting for all the supplies we lacked.  This afternoon a friend came over to visit and pitched right in putting together activity packs with Laura, Jane and me.  We’re about halfway finished now!  What a wonderful help she was in the midst of our chaos!  Thank you, friend!

These preschool activities fit into four categories, Table Time, Blanket Time, Exercise Time, and Other.

Table Time activities will be useful to keep three little boys occupied while the fourth one is busy with his workbooks.

Blanket Time activities will be helpful for anytime my hands and eyes need to be focused on Verity’s care and the four little guys need to be with me in our tiny bedroom.  I discovered that bath towels are just the right size for this purpose.  And last night Joe picked up four inexpensive bath towels in the little guys’ favorite colors–orange, red, blue and green.

Exercise Time activities are the ones that Joshua and Laura will be doing with them for phys ed.  I haven’t made that particular list yet, but I will.

John Michael, Peter and James had a blast doing one of the Other activities last night after supper–washing the front porch with old cloths and water from their spray bottles.  While they scrubbed away, Stephen played delightedly with his little “wagon” made of a shoebox-sized box with a clothesline pull, taking his stuffed animal friends along for the ride.

A few pictures from yesterday.  James during Blanket Time.  I used our bath towels, but we need those for their intended purpose.

Peter showing me what he did with his nuts, bolts and washers.

Even little Stephen knew what to do with them without being shown.

John Michael has been chafing at the bit, waiting for school to start!

He’s a natural-born scholar.

Unlike some other people we could mention…

…who would rather be doing just about anything else, yes, even folding laundry or washing dishes.  (Here she was reading the Proverb that she copied using the beautiful cursive handwriting she has developed in spite of herself. <wink>)

Stephen putting his nuts and bolts away before following the others down the steps to the lunch table.

“…you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Deo volente!

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14 Responses to “We will, Deo volente”

  1. stephanie says:

    You sound completely in control and a great plan in order!
    I wish I was that organized. Could I borrow a few of you older ones for a while?
    I was just looking at the posts that i missed with Andrew my 6 year old. He saw the pic of Verity on her belly and said ” OOOOH, cute eyes”.

  2. Susanna says:

    Lol, Stephanie, I had to reply to this!  This is the PLAN.  I’ll report on the reality when the honeymoon wears off!  Actually, by the time my friend got here yesterday, I was feelin’ that reality.  Kids were blissfully unaware, but they’ll get there!  Busy, busy times!

  3. Denise says:

    Sounds great!!
    Just wondering do any of your littles nap?
    I have implemented many of the above ideas (activity bag, phys ed, blanket time) in our day just this year– with our 3 littles….

    We continue to pray–  but as I read this– I was thinking “yes my friend Michelle was right– God hand picked this perfect family for Verity”  (not that you are “perfect” but you are Perfect for Verity!!  So perfect!!!

  4. Susanna says:

    Hi Denise! *waving hand* Stephen would nap for hours every afternoon if we’d allow him to, then he would be bright-eyed at 10 PM-lol!  We do give him a limited nap at times if he is unreasonably and perpetually grouchy.

  5. Tami Swaim says:

    Stephen is too cute!  You just really shouldn’t make them that cute Lord, for we may spoil them!!  I found some nuts and bolts that weren’t used on our bed frame (guess they weren’t needed?!)  I will use “blanket time”, nice idea!  We use the Letters and Numbers Abeka book too for extra practice.  Nice thinking doubling up on the use of the play room.  Oh, we do copy work from the Bible too!  That covers many bases!  Well, I better go pack for our last Sha-bang for the summer.  Then it’s cabin fever here we come!

  6. Marilyn Osborn says:

    So glad you posted.  I check each day to see the progress/updates.  Your children are so precious!  You’ve got some GREAT ideas there!
    LOVE YOU!  M

  7. Sounds like you have got some great ideas going and I pray the Lord will bless you with strength in the school days ahead.  ((hugs))
    Precious children you have been blessed with!

  8. Susan Wiker says:

    Susanna – thank you for taking the time to share how God has lead your family to approach school this year.  It sounds like you have a working plan that can be changed as you go.  Proverbs 9:10  “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”  Praying for everyone – especially you!

  9. Gleaning, gleaning, gleaning!  I love to learn from you! 

    Praying for your new school schedule.  It’s always hectic getting started.  We start next week!

  10. Denise says:

    Just had to share–  Verity really is a household name here–
    My 2 year old yesterday had Verity on his mind– because at breakfast that was his prayer request– and before bed– I was checking my e-mail and there was a picture of a baby on the computer– and he said “is that baby berity? ”  I said “no, honey its not” He then replied  “I want to see baby  Berity”…   So we opened this up– and he said  “oh  yeaaa  she is so cute… ”  :)

    We just love Verity and pray for you guys all the time– from the youngest to the oldest…  this has really drawn our hearts to YOUR family… we are blessed to have gotten to know you– and look forward to future visits!!

  11. Barb Murphy says:

    The pictures of the children are just too cute!   I love to see their facial expressions as they do their work.  And Verity just fits in, with those big bright eyes and alert expressions of her own!  Hope the school year goes well.

  12. Aunt Carol says:

    You’re doing a great job with and for your family.  Your mom would be so proud of you and happy for you.  Am continuing to pray for you.  The Lord will bless you for your faithfulness to the ministry He has called you to – that of being and wife and a mom!   It’s not easy, but take it one day at a time.

  13. Shari~hotfudgecustard says:

    Awwwww, precious Jane!  She may not be a natural-born scholar, but she sounds like a natural-born mama!  Sending her hugs this afternoon!!!

  14. Amy says:

    I have been trying to use Abeka for everything and we have fallen way behind. I am going to be searching for something that will help us get caught up and may be easier to keep up with. I am afraid that my lack of organization is our number one issue. :(

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