I am asked occaisionally, and at times frequently, how we "get it all done." This is an odd question because we only get done what we do. And besides that, we don't. That being said, we have accomplished some things; 23 years of marriage and we still like each other, 5 kids and 5 graduate degrees between us, homeschooling, cooking, gardening, canning, "projects," the acerage, Bible Study and Viking Man actually holds down a few jobs in between all of that.
Years ago I became a Stephen Covey convert. David was treated by the U.S.A.F. during his stint to a series of seminars by the Covey Institute and as a result we became day-timer lifers. I love his book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," as well as others, because, honestly, I want to be one. I want to be an effective wife, mom and person. It's a short life, is it not? (for those readers under 40 years of age, there is a right answer). I want to get to the end of the Day knowing that I've left a living legacy. I am pretty clear at this point what it is I'm called to do. For instance, as much work as a good marriage is, I mean we are both so irritating and all, Viking Man and I want to be sitting on the porch together when we're old and grey. I do hope he has some new jokes by then, but I'm not holding my breath. And as an aside if I ever die of "unknown causes" you can be assured that I was punned to death -more difficult to trace than arsnic but just as deadly! and btw, I am SURE that there is NO PUNNING IN HEAVEN.
But I digress. A lot of how we seem to get so much done has everything to do with what we do as well as what we don't do. For instance we don't watch T.V. We found several years ago that it was a time stealer (though now, if you ask for the theory behind the practice, I will direct you to Neil Postman's excellent book, "Amusing Ourselves to Death.") We do watch movies and have many favorites; but we aren't spending the precious commodity of our lives suffering through mindless, inappropriate commercials and we can always push, "Pause" pick it up later, fast forward, or simply, "OFF." For some reason, it's just not as easy to get caught up in the mesmerizing hypnotic thang as it is when your watching a T.V. show.
We are also very hard workers. Both Viking Man and I were raised by first borns. Nuff'' said, we get the work ethic thing. And while I'm not sure that our kids actually enjoy hard work (not sure I always do either) they certainly know how to work hard. They work hard alongside of us, contributing to the work of our hands. When I can, they can. When we work in the "yard" (10 acres) they work in the yard. You get the picture. Boredom and idleness are not readily tolerated at the Gracious Heart Homestead. Those who are can always wash dishes, mow, clean the car, hack weeds, chop wood, clean the attic...you get the idea. Parellel to this we allow our kids vast amounts of free time to wander, read and wonder.
We employ help. We hire Tutors. It's hard to imagine on our budget but it's true. Latin and Math, some Memory work and History are taught to my children via CD's, DVD's and computer programs. $30, or even $169 (for anyone considering IEW's TWSS and sitting on the fence) for a DVD that will teach my child a school subject for a year is money well spent in my economy. 30 weeks of 3 lessons a week = 90 lessons divided into whatever- what a bargain! Co-ops, too, are time well spent because my friend Melissa will read poetry to my littles while I teach the middles and while our middles are learning about trope and metaphor and simile our littles are memorizing "OOey, GOoey" and reveling in the joy of language. I've just doubled my time.
We have invested in quality tools when we can. My fav kitchen appliance is a Bosch mixer/blender. When you are feeding between 5-7 people three meals a day someone is cooking a lot. Having good tools makes it less like drudgery. Viking Man has quite a few power tools (though not as many as he'd like I'm sure) but the hours that he's used them to fix and build and create have enriched our lives so much.
We try to feed our minds and spirits as well as our bodies. Visitors who come to our home notice that we decorate in bibliostyle. There are books, magazines, CD's, DVD's, teaching tapes, drawing books and notebooks in every room of the house. We all have various intersts and we nurture those in each other. Miss R is passionate about Eastern Europe and as a result we all have friends and aquaintances there, the littles know a few words in Romanian, we know history, people groups and folklore. KB is the Tea-Party queen. As a result we all know what a good pot of tea both looks and tastes like, and are in love with the ritual of it all. Viking Man is a "Bible-freak" (term coined by Cub) and we all know history, dates, places, that we wouldn't have discovered on our own. We wouldn't have even known it was to be discovered. As we nurture each other's interests and passions our own lives are enriched and become fuller and we double our time.
Visitors might also notice another thing...we decorate in "weliveherestye." We clean up twice a day and if you miss a 45 minute window directly after that time you'll find that the accrouterments of actual living are to be found. We have a home. It's a crazy quilt home. Nothing matches, most of the furnishing have been gifted or thrifted, there are hand marks on the walls, scraps of paper on the floor, but it's a warm and inviting place, if I do say so myself. It is full of kids and wholesome food, and clean humor (puns don't count as clean or humor btw), and animals (though not as many as everyone but me would like), and plants and books and friendship. We get a lot of other things done by not obssesing about the unimportant (though I'm sure my kids would say I stress way to much about how clean our house is. If only they knew me before..)
We stay focused. Well, mostly. The rockiest bumps of late have been when we haven't. When we get confused or distracted, befuddled or bewildered. We've done some crazy things (at least that's what we've been told) and when you take risks there is always the possiblity that you'll, how shall I say this delicately... fail. Whatever that means. Honestly, what it means, is that we tried. Those who don't try, don't fail. So, I'm giving myself and the good Doc lots of brownie points for that. When we stay clear about who we are, what we are doing, where we are going, it falls into place. We get a lot done.
And lastly, we live seasonally. Last year we had 7 people at home. It was a lot of work just from a laundry and dishes perspective. But this summer we were down to 5 - the cooking and laundry and dish washing was a snap! This fall we've picked and picked and picked and picked apples. We've canned, dried and frozen apples. But that will end soon and we'll be into a different season of eating apples. Where we were at 10 or 20 years ago is so totally and completely different than where we are now or where we will be. So we try to give ourselves and each other grace. We don't have to do everything at once. We don't even have to do everything. Getting a lot done is a matter of getting done what you are called and responsible for getting done.
And on that note, it's Sunday and what we get done on Sundays is to eat popcorn together. Wish you were here Miss R (cause you know I'd ask you to make it! but mainly cause we miss you bunches!!).