Posted tagged ‘Siblings’

We Laughed Too

August 21, 2013

. . . I remember the moms of one or two kids, eyes like saucers as we passed them in the grocery store, asking one of two questions: 1 Are they all yours? 2 How do you do it? And Mom laughed. . . .

Phylicia’s post sounded some echos from my own past, so go have a read!

I remember those days, when my own mother would be shopping in the grocery store or the mall, five little munchkins trailing behind.  “Are they all yours” was a common question, at least until people were more distracted by “are they twins?”  The answer to both questions was yes, so at least that was easy…

My siblings and I span ten years from oldest (me) to youngest.  I know that helped a little, since some of us were able to be a significant amount of help when the last two came along.  I know I can’t fully appreciate all the work that went into raising five children, at least not yet, but I know that it was worth it!

We laughed too.  Some days it was little more than a smile, but we laughed.  We sang, we played games, we read books, and we laughed.

Phylicia is right, there is a joy and a peace that transcend circumstances, whether there are five kids, six kids, two kids, or none.  We can encourage it, or we can smother it, so look for the ways that God is blessing your family and point them out.  Rejoice in the family you’ve been given.

And build for the future.  Your future home, your children’s future homes, your future home in heaven.  Rejoice, for the Lord is come.

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The Gift of Memory

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  The holiday season is just about over, except for cleaning up the confetti and pine needles, which could take months.  In my house, the only thing left to do is take down the Christmas tree, which will happen today at some point.

Christmas may be over, but I will carry many memories away from this year’s celebration of Christ’s birth.  Some of the stories from this Christmas season are only the prologue to longer tales, and one of these is what I’d like to share with you now.

Remember not so long ago I wrote about the lunch conversations my siblings and I have so enjoyed?  Well, one of my gifts this year consisted of two letters, written by my mother, each sharing some of the wisdom she has previously shared verbally.  Along with these letters was a promise that she is going to add to the collection, sometimes writing to one child, sometimes to another, but we’ll each get a copy to add to our binders.

I can’t begin to express how special this gift was to me.  The memories it conjures up alone are priceless, and when you add in all the counsel the value of this gift skyrockets.  I usually get one gift that makes me so teary-eyed that I cannot speak, and the letters were it this year.

But that’s not the end of the story.

I was not the only one given such a gift.  My sister also got the gift of memories, only in different form.  She has already been dubbed the Family Historian and is the official keeper of the family newsletters, so this year, Mom began writing out the family stories.  Beginning with the story of how our family got started – how she met my dad.

We’ve heard the story before, but it’s special to have it written down in her voice, and we can share it with our own families someday.  Again, the idea is that Mom will continue to write the stories, and we will all get copies of them.  She seems to have found a topic for that book we keep joking that she should write when she retires from homeschooling . . .

And the story is still not done.

3G also got a gift that will be treasured by each of us.  My father has been teaching, whether in a Sunday School setting or a Bible study, for as long as I can remember.  More recently, he began a practice of writing out his notes so that he could share them with our college siblings while they’re away.  So what was 3G’s gift?

3G’s binder was the fullest of the bunch, because he got the first copy of Dad’s notes from the Kingdom books (Samuel through Chronicles).  Once more the idea is that we’ll get installments as the years go by, and we are all excited about this gift too.  By the time he gets done, we may have a whole commentary!

I feel like the cup that is running over with blessings.  With all that blessing, however, comes responsibility.  It doesn’t matter so much how much you’ve been given, but what you do with it.  All these blessings will not do me much good if I do not turn around and use them, and share them.

So, I’d like to leave you with a thought.  As you’re going forward in this new year, what memories of this Christmas will you take with you?  What lessons from childhood?  What teaching that God gave you last year?  How are you different from the person who began 2012?

May God richly bless us in the coming year, and may we learn to appreciate His blessings more fully with each passing day.

Happy New Year!

It Gets Easier

September 14, 2012

I know, I know, it didn’t initially seem any easier the second time around as my siblings went off to college.  Sure, this is 3G’s fourth year, so packing him up almost felt like old hat.  (Okay, so I didn’t do much in terms of packing him up, unless you count helping load the minivan!)  But this was Sister’s second year, making it also the second year we’ve gone from five siblings home to three siblings home within a week.

To be honest, the transition this time was easier for me.  I don’t pretend to speak for the rest of the household, although they seem to have settled back into the groove we eventually found last year.  Sure, we miss our college siblings.  Miss them a lot sometimes, but we seem to have remembered how to function as a smaller family again.

And it helps to plan visits.  For instance, I am going tomorrow to visit Sister.  I’ll get to see her new room, meet some friends, and hang out.  Because I’m working full-time, visits to either sibling have been few and far between for me, so this will be a lot of fun.  I’m also planning to attend a concert or two this winter at 3G’s college.  He’s also going with us to the Fall Conference we attend every year.  More about that, hopefully, when it gets closer.

Come to think of it, I guess everything gets easier with practice and familiarity.  Whether you’re learning the ropes at a new job, taking a new class, or adjusting to siblings moving out of the house – even temporarily like mine.

Lord, teach me again that You are enough, no matter what new thing You are teaching me.

Climbing Tree

August 4, 2012

When we moved twelve years ago, Mom and Dad asked 3G, Sister, and me if we had any requests for the new house.  We were not old enough to be involved in the decision making, but they wanted the new home to be reflective of what we wanted to some extent.  After all, we were going to live there too!

The biggest thing on our wishlist was a climbing tree.  While our old house had three trees, none of them had low branches for climbing.  We had to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to climb their tree.  That was fun, but we hoped that we could have a tree of our own that could be climbed on a whim, not just the couple of times a year we went to visit the grandparents instead of them coming to see us.

When God finally led us to our new home, three happy campers were glad to see that the spacious front lawn was home to a beautiful tree – a very climbable maple!  If that tree had had paint on its branches, we would have worn it off the first summer, and we didn’t move in until July.  We loved climbing around, making up stories.  That tree was our ship, fort, and jungle gym all rolled into one.

Some of my favorite memories of the tree, however, are of the times during my mid-teens when I would wander out alone and climb to the top just for the view.  Everything looks a little different from the top of a tree.  Sometimes I would sit on a particular branch and look in one direction as I chewed over some internal issue.  At other times, I would stand on another branch and watch the cars go by on our road or the haying in the field across the way.  Whatever the case, that tree has plenty of memories.

I haven’t done much tree climbing in several years now.  Some of the branches are showing wear from five pairs of feet climbing in it.  New growth has filled in some of the places we used to climb in and out, while patches have taken some damage over the years.  Still, every once in a while, I get the urge for a higher perspective on the world, and I’ll swing up among the leaves and the breezes to see what I can see.

Schoolmates

July 21, 2012

Next stop along memory lane: the schoolroom.  Having been blessed with a first floor office/sixth bedroom, we turned the space into learning central.  With two 18-month-olds in the house (when we moved here), we (the three school-aged older siblings at the time) needed to be able to shut the door and have relative quiet sometimes!

I say relative, because my memories of the schoolroom revolve around my schoolmates and the conversations we had in that room.  Hmm.  If my next memory also involves conversations someone is going to discover a pattern!

The office, as we have always called it, is big enough to hold four desks – one each for 3G, Sister, and me, and one for Mom, which held the desktop computer.  We weren’t required to do all our work at our desks, for instance if we were reading the couch was often a better place, but many assignments needed desk space.  Sister and I had desks next to each other, while 3G was against the opposite wall.  We were facing away from each other, but thanks to our swivel chairs, we could turn and talk quite easily.

Mom had laid out the guideline that we needed to be eating breakfast by 8, and doing school by 9.  Rarely did any of us fail in that.  In fact, I made a habit, starting in 8th grade, of coming down early to work on my math before breakfast.

By 9 o’ clock then, we were usually working steadily on whatever assignments we chose to do first.  Almost invariably, by the time we had reached the second or third subject, one or another of us had made some comment, often relating to our present schoolwork, which engaged all three of us in conversation.

We talked about everything from punctuation to geography, and we even branched into some of the same topics we covered in lunch conversations.  Sometimes we had differences of strong opinions, which led to minor clashes between at least two of us, but the third could sometimes diffuse the situation, at least partially.  When that happened, we always had our books to turn back to in order to settle our thoughts.  And usually that was enough for one or both to see that they were wrong.

We never had these conversations when Mom was in the room.  If we heard her coming down the stairs to check on us, the three of us immediately turned back to our work.  She never spoke about it, but I think she knew very well that we talked amongst ourselves, and I doubt she had a problem with it.  But I think she probably did come down whenever she thought the conversations sounded like they were becoming unprofitable or overly long.  We did have other work to be doing!

Sometimes the four year gap between Sister and me was enough that she had a hard time following what I was talking about, although 3G could almost always keep up with (or surpass) me.  As we grew older, this gap seemed to shrink, till we could talk pretty equally when I was in my last years of high school.

Conversations such as these built relationships between me and my siblings.  Sure, we shared other activities.  We did most everything together, either as a family or in twos or threes.  But conversations are what reveals someone’s thoughts, their inner-working, their heart.  And we shared that too.

Today, we still get into long conversations; sometimes it’s two, or another two, or all three of us.  Whether Sister and I talk while she perches on my bed and I sit at my desk, she and 3G discuss the way the world works over a game of Mastermind, or we’re all hanging around in the basement after playing a game, we still enjoy delving into all kinds of topics.  With 3G and Sister away at college for six months out of the year, the conversations have become more limited, and may include other family or friends, but we probably enjoy them about as much anyway.

It’s interesting to think about it, but I probably owe much of my knowledge of some subjects to these conversations.  I was never very good at music theory, for instance, which 3G excelled at, and I never studied writing techniques like the budding author in the family, Sister.  But from listening to them talk about their favorite subjects (these and others), I picked up quite a bit that I never would have remembered otherwise.  Sometimes the concepts were ones I studied long ago, but when I had little interest in them, and my siblings merely solidified things and made them real.  Other times the things they talked about were new, and I’m glad for those too.

For you homeschooling parents out there, I encourage you to allow or foster discussions amongst your students.  Sure, they may take longer to complete their assignments, but they are building relationships and sharing knowledge.  That is priceless, for it actually helps both listener and speaker to solidify the knowledge in their heads.  Don’t feel like your schoolroom has to be silent for learning to take place, or that your students are distracting each other.  They are building the bonds which will in time knit your children together into a tight family circle.

My siblings and I are very close, especially Sister, 3G and I, despite our many differences and the distance which now separates us for half of the year.  And I trace much of that back to the relationships we began in our play and built in conversations, whether in school or out.

Of spring break and siblings

March 5, 2012

Is there anything better than siblings?  3G has his spring break this week, and Sister came home for the weekend so she’d get to see him (her break isn’t for another two weeks), so we had the whole seven of us together for 24 hours.  Saturday afternoon was hilarious, with a game of Spoons followed by Catch-Phrase.  The spoons (plastic!) were flying and so were the laughs.

Thinking about it today, however, I realize that my experience isn’t necessarily the norm.  It amazes me that in some families, siblings can’t stand being around each other, constantly fight, and prefer to find friends outside the home.  In other families, the siblings may not dislike each other, but they don’t have any kind of relationship, being too busy with their own activities to know what the other one is doing or feeling.

Siblings are home-grown friends!  While my siblings and I didn’t always get along perfectly growing up, we still loved each other and enjoyed playing, studying, and growing together.  We still get on each others’ nerves sometimes (all right, all right, mostly me getting on Sister’s nerves – sorry, Sis), but the best friends are people who can be themselves with each other, forgive the others’ mistakes, and encourage each other to grow past their faults.  My siblings and I love spending time together, whether it’s playing a game, eating dinner, or just a general gab fest.  What with two kids away at college now, breaks are usually full of jabbering to get everybody caught up (sort of!) on what’s been going on with everyone else!

Don’t read me wrong.  I’m not saying that siblings are the only friends you need, should have, or should want.  I have plenty of friends outside the family, between church, work, and volunteering.  Some of them even feel like family.  What I am trying to say is that I’m disappointed in families where the siblings can’t stand each other and the parents don’t seem to know how to encourage them to change that.

How does it start?  I don’t even know, having early learned that siblings are great playmates when treated with respect and love.  Is it because siblings are separated into classes at school, rarely seeing each other, and then vying for parental attention when they get home?  Is it because their school friends are jealous of their time and would rather snub all the other people in their own household and those of their friends in favor of spending time with the friend?  I doubt this is the only factor, because some children don’t seem to be infected by the general aversion to siblings.

I feel sorry for people of all ages who have never learned what a joy it can be to have siblings.  For the only children out there, hopefully you’ve found friends with siblings that you can enjoy, or have cousins that can help fill their place.  And God does have reasons for not giving everyone siblings, just as He has reasons for everything else He does.  For those of you who have siblings, I challenge you to cherish them this month, whether they (and you) are still in the home nest or not.  Think about what nice things you can do for them, how you can make your relationship more friendly if necessary, and just enjoy them in general.

Especially those that are home on spring break!

Homeschooling and a New Baby (or two!)

January 28, 2012

Homeschooling is plenty of work for everyone involved, though I think most homeschooling moms and students would say it was worth the effort in the long run. But I have to think homeschooling is at its hardest when you are pregnant or have a new baby in the house. My mother knows all about that, having done it with not one new baby, but two.

I had just turned 10, 3G was nearly 8, and Sister was almost 6 when my youngest brothers were born in the middle of the school year.

Knowing that she was going to be due mid year, Mom and Dad had discussed sending 3G, Sister, and me to public school for a year because she wouldn’t be able to give us as much attention even during the first half of the year.  Dad’s final decision was, however, that whatever she was able to do for us was still going to be better than sending us among strangers in the public school system.

I, of course, was not part of the decision, although Mom did ask us what we thought.  None of us wanted to go to school for even a year.  We wanted to be home with Mom.

Was homeschooling different that year?  Sure!  We did a lot more of our subjects much more independently than we had in previous years.  And we started school sooner.  And we ended later.  But we got to have a week off when the twins arrived.  This, of course, was because Mom wasn’t ready to dive right back into schooling yet, but we looked on it much more as a chance to enjoy our new baby brothers.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing of what my parents did that year.  We all learned a lot, and much of it went beyond academics.  3G and I especially started helping out a lot more with household chores that Mom in her last three months did not have the energy or strength to do.  And we all put in a lot of hours with the twins.  Was it a lot of work to homeschool with two newborns in the house?  Sure.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Thirteen years later, I look at my youngest brothers, now growing like a couple of teenage weeds, and smile to think how small they were when I first visited them in the hospital.  I’ve probably learned more about parenting from watching Mom and Dad with the twins than from my own experience as their child.  And that will be invaluable when I have my own “quiver full of arrows” to raise.  Would I have wanted to miss most of their first months by going to school away from home?  Not me!  I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.


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