My First Suzuki Workshop

6 Jul


Yesterday, I spent the day in the first class required for Suzuki teacher training, “Every Child Can.”

First of all, it was an incredibly rejuvenating and inspiring and igniting experience to be in a room with other caring teachers and learn and discuss Shinichi Suzuki’s philosophy and method for teaching children.  I learned so much. Additionally, often when a class member made a comment, the teacher would ask, “do you mean ‘…’ by that?” and rephrase their answer.  Sometimes, the connections made were so unlike my own, that I got 3 new ideas from each comment: the idea of the class mate, the idea of the teacher, and the connecting idea that related the two.

I loved the ideals that Suzuki put forth.  I loved the camaraderie of the class.  I look forward to attending more in the future.

Things I learned:

Shinichi Suzuki was born in 1898 and died in 1998, nearly 100 years old.  He trained musically in Germany in 1926 and married a German woman as well as becoming friends with Einstien.  He and his family suffered much during World War 2.

This puts a context to his work with children.  He was not just teaching music to children, he was trying to change the world.

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki


“Perhaps it is music that will save the world.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education


I also learned that Suzuki never stopped learning, himself.  He called his teaching “research” and was continually trying new things and seeking more knowledge.

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. DO not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education

Until we die, we should spare no time or effort in changing our weaknesses to merits. To do so can be pleasant and interesting. We can become like the horse that starts last and yet outruns the field, reaching the wire first; it is the same fun.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki, Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education


As I listened and learned yesterday, I made many connections with what I learned reading Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry Prizant, PhD.  I feel that both of these men see children as human beings worthy of respect, and this is what makes their work effective and inspiring.  Charlotte Mason (whose educational philosophy I have written about before) also saw this when she stated as her first principle: “Children are born persons.”  It seems like such an obvious statement, rather like Shinichi Suzuki’s statement “All Japanese children learn Japanese.”  Yet it is recognizing a simple truth (which the majority of people have taken for granted) that changes the world.



What do I need if I’m Pregnant with Twins?

12 May

Four years ago, my doctor informed me that my baby number 8 was actually baby number 8 AND baby number 9.  I was a pretty experienced mommy, but I knew twins would be different.  I scoured the internet for information on what I would need.  Most mommy bloggers of twins had different life situations than I had.  Their twins were usually their first and second babies, or they had a toddler and twins.  I don’t think I found a single blog by mothers who already had 7 babies and then had twins.  (These women are much too busy to blog.)  These mommy bloggers all also seemed to be able to afford the deluxe, premium versions of everything from strollers to diaper bags.  That was definitely not me.

I do want to remember what I learned and what turned out to be useful for me.  So if you just found out that you are going to be a Mother of Multiples and you have a real life budget, here are the things that were the best things I bought.  I got my money’s worth out of all of them.  (P.S. None of these links are affiliate links because Missouri and Amazon do not get along–these are just sincerely the things that saved my sanity.)

#1–I ordered this brace when I was 30 weeks along. I should have ordered it at 25 weeks. It really helped reduce how much back pain I had while standing to cook dinner. (by 27 weeks, I only stood up to cook dinner. The rest of the time I sat on the couch watching Dora with Baby Bean.)
#2–I bought this pillow for nursing two babies at once. It was great for just holding them too. My twins turned out to be terrible at eating, so I only used it for about 3 1/2 months before I faced reality and switched to full formula and bottles. There are lots of twin mommy blogs out there of super women who exclusively breast fed or exclusively pumped and bottle fed their twins for a whole year, so I’m not saying it is impossible. But don’t judge yourself if your unique situation doesn’t work out that way. ❤
#3–If it turns out that you partially or fully bottle feed your babies, you will be super glad to have these “hands-free” bottles. The part that goes in the baby’s mouth is like a pacifier that hooks to the bottle on a long tube. This way, no one has to hold the weight of the bottle. It’s awesome. Also, the babies swallow less air with these, so if your babies have colic or gastric re-flux, they help with that too. I can’t tell you how many nights at 1 in the morning I was attempting to nurse a baby with one arm, hold the breast pump on the other side, and had the other baby in a bouncy chair and was propping a bottle for him with my foot. These fix that.
#4–Speaking of bouncy chairs….when I had only one baby, these seemed like useless space hogs. But My twins were in their bouncy chairs so much. Bouncy chairs or swings…either is fine, but you need two! They can double as high chairs for a long time as well.
#5–I got a backpack diaper bag because I knew both hands would be busy with the babies. That was a good call. You don’t want a shoulder bag that is going to slip down your arm onto a baby or make you lopsided. You’ll be juggling too much anyway. This is the one I got, and I loved it, but there are many many options out there.
A lot of twin moms recommend the JuJuBe diaper bags. They look amazing and expensive.
#6–This stroller is light weight, sturdy, and works with most car seats, so you don’t have to buy two new car seats (if you don’t want to) This thing was my work horse for many months–as long as you bring the babies into church in their car seats, you’ll be glad you have it. Baby Trend Universal Double Snap-N-Go Stroller Frame
#7–Start making a list now of things that people can do for you. Lots of people will ask if they can help, and you’re going to be so tired and overwhelmed that you’ll go blank, and you won’t know what you can tell them to do. So make a list now of things you’re willing to let people help you with– like running a load of laundry through your washer, or sweeping your floor, or washing baby bottles, or feeding your goats etc. The thing that someone did for me that helped me the most was to come once or twice a week and take away my preschoolers for the afternoon (Banana Cream Pie was 3 and Baby Bean was 18 months old.) For those few hours I could take care of the twins or take a nap and not have to worry about what crazy messy thing Baby Bean might be getting into.
#8–I made lots of casseroles and freezer meals so that dinner would be easier after the babies were born. By 25 weeks I had 30 meals in the freezer.  I didn’t make more because after that, I was in too much pain to stand for long enough to put extra meals together.  (see #1)  After the babies were born, we also ate a lot of dinosaur chicken nuggets, freezer pizza, taquitos, and popcorn–everyone survived just fine 😉
You can do this, Mamma! Heavenly Father will grant you the strength and wisdom you need when you need it ❤ He is sending these beautiful babies to you because you are the perfect mommy for them. They will love you as you are.
Don’t let yourself think that you have to do things a certain way.
Every time you get frustrated, ask yourself–What is driving me crazy?
How can I make that process simpler or make it go more smoothly?
What expectations do I have that aren’t really true and I need to let go of them?
(example: “good moms do X so I have to do X also.” or If my kids are unhappy, I’m failing.”)
❤ Glowworm

Productivity as a Homemaker

5 Mar

I was listening to a podcast and the speaker was talking sort of on a “seize the day/make every moment count” theme. I was getting more and more stressed out listening to her. That particular stressful feeling of “I’m wasting my life and all my time and I’m not being productive” used to bother me all the time, but hasn’t recently, and I paused the podcast to think about why. I realized that

-in the past, I read so many efficiency and productivity books and was trying to be productive, but they were all business oriented so my housework didn’t seem productive to me. Those books all talked about goals and promotions and “getting to the next level”. Home making doesn’t really have promotions and levels. You can’t often make a S.M.A.R.T. goal for housework–because there is no end date. House work repeats over and over. There is no promotion to a new level where I suddenly don’t need to wash dishes any more. Because of this, I didn’t view housework as “productive”. Housework was the stuff I had get over with so that I could go do something productive. Since it never ended, my frustration was almost constant.

-A few years ago I decided to stop trying to be “productive” because it was getting in the way of me being able to love and care for my family. I was making everyone miserable trying to rush through housework. If a child spilled something or made a mess, I would totally lose my temper because I saw it as a setback to my goal of “getting done.”

I chose to accept what must be done and strive simply to do it well. No longer would I speak of housework as drudgery or complain of the Sisyphean mountains of laundry and dishes. Instead I reminded myself each day that my job as mother is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, make a clean and tidy place for my children to grow in, minister to the sick, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. These are things that Jesus did while he was on the earth. They cannot be drudgery, no matter how often they repeat.

-This choice brought me a large measure of peace. Spills and messes are inevitable in a family of 11. I don’t lose my temper anymore because spills aren’t setbacks. They are just spills. I’m happy doing what I can do each day.

As I thought about what the podcast speaker was saying, I realized that no one has ever said house work wasn’t productive. That was just a logic hole in my own head. When I “gave up on productivity,” what I actually did was to let go of my narrow definition of productivity and accept the work set before me. I’m so much more productive now that my focus is on what is essential and not on an unrealistic view of what I ought to be doing.


Spanish Poetry

12 Feb

via Spanish Poetry

2018 Book Review

9 Jan

It was my goal to read 60 books for 2018, and I only managed to finish 53. It was also my goal to only read books I enjoyed, and I dropped several without finishing, including Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway and Origin by Dan Brown.

My favorite fun reads: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand (Thanks Katie)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, narrated by Jim Dale (this one is the first book I’ve listened to that I believe is a better experience listening than it would have been to just read myself)

Classic that I hadn’t read before that I still can’t talk about:

Random Harvest by James Hilton

All I can say for now is that it is what Brideshead Revisited could have been if Evelyn Waugh had written characters worth reading about.

The one book I read that I didn’t enjoy, but I finished because it was good for me:

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Books that I couldn’t stop talking about:

At Home by Bill Bryson (thanks, Ruth)

The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Best Family Read-alouds:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Top 3:

No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown

Christmas Crafting 2018

26 Dec

Merry Christmas!

Since the twins were born, and I think maybe even longer ago–possibly for the last 6 years–I have not attempted making anything for Christmas. I just accepted the impossibility of making anything with twin babies in the house. This year the Christmas crafting bug could not be denied. It was my turn to give to my little brother, Sammy, and My best idea was to make a family version of Pit (a favorite game in our family.) Its a trading game. Usually the commodities traded are things like Wheat, Sugar, Corn, and Barley …a.k.a. Stock Market commodities. I made it with pictures of our family, so the commodities are Sammy, Katie, Eddie, etc. Mom is the Bear card, and Dad is the Bull card. 😂😂. We had great fun playing on Christmas Day.

Let me tell you, it was more cutthroat than regular pit because the stakes felt higher.

How I made it:

I used the paint program on my computer to crop the pictures and add the point values. (Sammy got to be 100 since it was his present, and then I just went in reverse order. Peter suggested that I should have made our birth years the point values—which would have been cool-but significantly shortened the point spread.)

I printed the “wallet size” option, which was perfect for the cards.

I bought two 88 cent packs of playing cards, making sure to get the same pattern backs. I used double-sided tape to attach the pictures. Then I borrowed my friend’s laminator to laminate them. Originally I was just going to use clear packing tape to “laminate” them—and that might have been better, because they are pretty slippery and thicker than regular cards, it took a couple of rounds to get used to holding them.

However, I worried that the packing tape wouldn’t hold up as well.

I also made a birthday chart for my in-laws. They needed one :).

Now I know why most people use vinyl lettering instead of painting. I didn’t sand the board with a smooth enough grit, and the paint bled under the stencil edges pretty badly. So lesson learned: use at least 3 levels (probably more) of sandpaper , and just use vinyl cutouts. I fixed the big letters with a little paint brush. The little letters bled so badly that I gave up on that stencil and just painted the months freehand. They turned out better than I expected.

This board was 3/4″ by 6″ by 28″.

So you Have a New Baby and You Want to Know How to Get Dinner on the Table?

11 Dec

First of all, I present as a gift, my rule of thumb for time management after welcoming a new baby into your home.

Rule of Thumb:

Baby is 0-3 months old = you will get nothing done aside from feeding and diapering baby. Your family will survive on Cheerios, peanut butter sandwiches, ramen noodles, and popcorn. It’s fine. Order pizza as often as possible 😉 it’s good for moral.

Baby is 3-6 months old: you can accomplish 1-2 other tasks per day besides caring for the baby and toddler. This could be dinner, some cleaning, or laundry, but not all 3. Your toddler will watch much TV regardless of which task you choose. I recommend “Little Baby Bum”…

Baby is 6 plus months old: on good days you can accomplish 3-4 tasks. On bad days—zero.

If you have Twins:  basically double the length of each stage— maybe triple depending on how many other children you have and what their ages are.

Twins 0-6 months: feeding the twins is all you will accomplish.

When your twins have survived for 6 months, you will suddenly one day lift your head, take a breath, and realize that the outside world is still going on. You will probably be able to add one non-baby task per day at this point if your twins are formula fed and can hold their own bottles.

Now that you have realistic expectations, I’ll tell you the next most important thing.

The first key to being consistent at getting meals on the table is your attitude.  You need to recognize how important a part of your Mom job it is.  For years, I thought I had the best attitude about being a mother.  I “knew how important” it was to be a mom.  My day-to-day thought process did not reflect this, though.  Day in and day out, I viewed the work I did in my home as never ending drudgery, and I rushed through it hoping to have time to get to “something important” and time to do the “fun things I wanted to do.”

I am embarrassed to tell you how many years it took me to realize the truth that would set me free from daily frustration and misery.  I realized that feeding my family, clothing my family, and keeping our home clean WERE the important things I needed to do each day.  These chores were not the necessary evils of motherhood.   These chores were the most important daily service I could render to my husband and children and, by extension, the best service I could render to God.   Once I figured this out, I still needed to change my attitude so that I could rejoice in those daily tasks.  Reading this little pamphlet called Rejoicing in Repetition changed my attitude.  It is worth every penny!!

Now that your expectations and attitude are squared away, I’ll tell you my favorite way to get dinner done for the family. I’ve tried all the ideas: 30 minute meals, freezer meals, make ahead meals, crock-pot meals.  My favorite for ease of preparation and freshness of the food is doing a prep day once a week.

I started with a plan where someone else did the thinking for me: Five Dinners in One Hour. I began with the $2 trial plan. She gives you recipes, a grocery list, and instructions for how to do all the prep work for 5 dinners in about an hour on one day. Her meals are pretty traditional meat and potatoes type meals, but with lots of good veggies, and she had several meatless meals, which is very nice.

It was life changing for me even though my pep takes more like 2 hours since I’m prepping meals for 11 people.

Try Five Dinners Here

Fair Warning: kitchen must be clean and groceries bought. The prep time doesn’t count shopping or cleaning the kitchen. So I usually shop and clean on Friday and then prep on Saturday.

Seriously, this method is so much quicker and fresher tasting than making freezer meals (been there, tried that). Even on the weeks that I don’t do full prep, just taking time to wash and chop all the veggies makes getting food on the table 100% easier.

Another planning and preparation method I love is Mystie Winkler’s Simplified Dinner plan.  Family meals are a big deal, and if you want to learn how to make your meal preparation and planning go more smoothly and take as little brain space as possible, then this Simplified Dinner ebook is the thing you need.

You can do this, Momma!  God gave you this baby (babies) and He will give you the Grace and energy and wisdom to accomplish this mission.

❤️ Glowworm


1. Get your Expectations Real!

2. Read Rejoicing in Repetition

3. Check out Five Dinners in One Hour

4. Check out Simplified Dinner


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