Dyamond and Monica






Meet Dyamond and Monica, the newest addition to our traveling kid collection!  Dyamond and Monica will be staying with us for the next six weeks while their mom is out of the country.  So, starting on Thursday our house became home to a 15 year old, 8 year old, 6 year old, two 5 year olds, and a two year old!  We now have more kids than can fit in our van!  We thought long and hard before agreeing to take them in.  We both feel our focus needs to be on our eldest right now, as he navigates the perils of adolescence, but somewhere along the prayers and discussions God worked on both of our hearts and we agreed to say yes.  In the days leading up to their mom’s departure God worked again to make sure that we were prepared in ways we hadn’t even considered.  The first few days Kenny and I both felt keyed up with anxiety, wondering if this was going to be a nightmare.  Six kids in a four bedroom apartment in Korea, homeschooling five different grades, adding more chaos to our already crazy lives?  But when God gives you a job you don’t need to freak out even if you know you aren’t enough for it.  He makes it happen because its His work, and that’s how it has been with these girls.  During the school day we all stay in the dining room.  Dyamond has preschool work just a step down from Elliana’s kindergarten work, and when she’s finished she plays with her My Little Ponies.  Monica ping pongs between my lap and her toys on the floor.  We all eat our sandwiches at the park then Monica naps in her crib in Elliana’s room and Dyamond falls asleep on the couch as we read aloud.  The rest of the day Monica stays stuck on me.  I forgot how clingy a two year-old can be, and how heavy!  The first few days I couldn’t get a lick of housework done, but after a day or two she has started to relax and I can get the dishes done while she splashes in the bubbles on a stool beside me.   I was surprise by how exhausted Elliana is from having a constant playmate.  By last  night everyone was over tired.  I remembered the feeling of being at a two year olds mercy as she cried and I try to put dinner on the table, but by being calm and moving slowly, kid-pace even, I still feel peace and joy in our house even when the two year old’s nap is interrupted by a five year old’s temper tantrum.  It is amazing to me how different I am now from when my kids were babies just a few year ago.  I used to feel such a need to keep everything under control.  Now I realize the key is to keep me under control.  It’s encouraging to see that God has been working in my life.  So, I am moving one two year old sized step at a time through our day and remembering all the good examples I have seen (Jessica Peeler toting Lyla everywhere for years, the Duggars- seriously, have you watched that show- it will have you talking sweet to your kids for at least a day after watching,) and the good advice I have heard and read (Debbie Pearl, Tedd Tripp, James Dobson.)  I consider these next six weeks like a family mission trip and I would appreciate your prayers that we would be able to show God’s love, teach our kids to serve, and know Him better by taking care of these two little girls.   Its a joy to serve when you are doing in the strength He provides, and that’s what I want to it to be!


What Do You Do All Day?

Our home school year is in full swing and combined with scouting, boy and girl, church events, babysitting and the time consuming task of running an American home in Seoul, Korea, there is never a minute to spare, but what do our days really look like?  I often think of various friends and wonder “how do they get this done?” or “what does that look like in their family?”  So here is an answer to those questions for us- an inside look at a typical day in our family:

4:45 am- Kenny’s alarm goes off and being the conscientious, responsible adult he is he actually gets up to it.

5:00 am- My alarm goes off.

5:15 am- Kenny returns to our room to find my all the pillows flung across the room and everything on my nightstand, including the alarm clock, knocked to the floor.  He begins the process of convincing me to get out of bed.  “Erica, time to get up.”  “Erica, you know you don’t want to miss reading you Bible, come on baby.”  I reply with inhuman sounds, and occasionally kicking.

5:30 am- I finally zombie walk my way out of the bedroom, occasionally after having been physically hauled out of bed by my annoyingly responsible husband.  He assuages my agony at being awake by bringing me a glass of ice water.  (Ice water is to me what coffee is to other people.) Then he heads out to PT.  I sit down in our dining room, facing a balcony view of darkened city and orange glowing hotel windows.  I read my Bible, journal, practice my memory verses and pray.  Then, with the reminder of who I am, why I do what I do, and how I do what I do glowing in my heart, I check my email and look over what I need to do today.

6:00 am- The household awakes!  Usually to loud country music on the TV.  I have to replay the get-out of bed drama, this time in Kenny’s role as awaken-er attempting to rouse our 15 year old.  After they achieve consciousness everyone reads their Bible, gets dressed, brushes their teeth and cleans their rooms.  I make sure the front hall and bathroom are clean.  Cody takes the trash down 11 stories to the dumpster.

7:00 am- Housework means I make lunches, make breakfast and then, aided by a kid, preform the day’s housework task.  In order to ensure our house doesn’t descend into utter filth, I divided the house into four sections.  I wrote the tasks for cleaning each section on a note card, then I hung the stack from a clip on the fridge. Each day I do one task from the card on top.  When the card is done I put it on the bottom and go on to the next.  This way our house gets totally scrubbed about once a month.  In addition to our regular chores and tidying this seems to work to keep the chaos at bay!

8:00 am- Kenny is home, showered and dressed in that sexy uniform the military makes him wear just for my viewing pleasure.  (Sorry had to include that line to make him blush.)  At each meal the kids have task: setting the table, wiping it down, sweeping, and doing the dishes.  We draw lots for jobs each month and then you’re stuck with it for a month.

9:00 am- Math: Cody and Dallas read a lesson in their Saxon books, do problems-neatly lined up on the margin of their notebook (yes, I am evil about demanding tidiness and organization- I keep telling them it will serve them later and they keep groaning,) then I check their work.  If they make a mistake on the day’s new skill we go over it together.  If they have a problem on the cumulative review I write the correct answer and let them figure our their mistake.  David and Elliana do a skill practice and Saxon lesson with me then do the problem pages on their own.


10:00 am- Reading: Cody and Dallas take their books and journals and find comfy places to read and respond.  David reads to me from the My Father’s World Bible journal and then journals.  Elliana reads from Sigfried Engleman’s Hundred Easy Lessons the practices writing her sounds.

Caught me taking her picture mid-sentance.

Caught me taking her picture mid-sentance.

11:00 am- Language Arts: Cody and Dallas work in their Bob Jones University workbooks practicing grammar and writing skills.  David and Elliana practice handwriting and phonics skills with the MFW first grade book.  If anybody does any spelling it is words drawn from their own writing.

David works on a thank you note to fire fighters in honor of patriot day.  We were able to deliver it to the fire station on post later in the day.

David works on a thank you note to fire fighters in honor of patriot day. We were able to deliver it to the fire station on post later in the day.

12:00 Lunch- since I already packed their lunches, we grab the sandwiches and take lunch down to the playground.  What a great way to break up the day, restart on energy and stretch our legs!

Occasionally we even get to walk down the street and try one of our local Korean restaurants for lunch!

Occasionally we even get to walk down the street and try one of our local Korean restaurants for lunch!

1:00 Read Aloud- Big guys who have work to finish can bring it to the living room floor, but everybody has to sit still and listen to two chapters out of whatever chapter book we are working our way through.  Often if we are babysitting little ones this is the perfect time for them to fall asleep for their naps.

2:00 Specials- Our morning work is mostly kid lead- “show me what you can do in reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic,and I will just be here to spur you on a bit,” but in the afternoon I try to channel Ms. Frizzle from Magic School bus as we all enjoy science, or social studies, or art.  We have candy for review questions, read from our texts, do experiments and create beautiful colored pencil journal entries.  Last week we made a taxonomy for all the shoes in the house.

What did home-schoolers do before the invention of the ipad?

What did home-schoolers do before the invention of the ipad?

3:00- Time to finish any work you haven’t completed, or, if you’ve been working hard all day, enjoy some video game time while I finish my to do list.  (Remember somewhere in all this I have to cook dinner and fold the laundry.)

4:00 & 5:00- Do stuff that has nothing do with home schooling- trips to the commissary, px and library.  Bike rides on Iteawon or down to Hangang Park, walks, hikes at Eungang park just across the streets, rollerblading at the park or just filling the house with the noise and color of half a dozen friends charging through their our house is grand central station!

Or maybe we might just spend our time doing random handstands around Seoul.  Seriously, I turned around and this was happening.  When I asked for an explination they said "Cody had a stitch in his side."  So apparently that explains everything.

Or maybe we might just spend our time doing random handstands around Seoul. Seriously, I turned around and this was happening. When I asked for an explanation they said “Cody had a stitch in his side.” So apparently that is how you stretch out a cramp.

6:00 Kenny is home and time for dinner.

7:00 Clean up and get ready for bed.

8:00  Kenny gets out  his guitar, fondly nicknamed the blue chicken (it’s a long story,) and he teaches us from the BIble and we sing.  Then I lead the kids in prayer and we head off to brush teeth and fill bunk beds.  They all get some time to read, or listen to tapes but youngest to oldest they are slowly sent off to sleep.  Next, I sweep through the back hall, bathroom and living room to be sure they are clean.  Then I write a quick list of what needs to get done tomorrow and the night is mine- mine to use for paperwork, mending, or a million other things that never get done during the day.  By 11:00 I am usually in bed watching those blinking lights of Seoul through my window.

So that’s what we do all day.  We try to do it all with peace, patience and the glory of God in mind- but to do something great for God, as I think every parent is trying to do, you must sometimes court failure, and I often do.  Still, even when the screaming is loud enough to make me blush the next time I see my neighbors, or the laundry is making the entire apartment reek, I feel my family is the wonderful job God has given me to do, and I believe He will continue His work unrestrained my limitations.  I love my job!  So what about you?  What do you do all day?