Family Tradition: St. Patrick’s Day Meets Green Eggs and Ham

This is one of our favorite family traditions. On St. Patrick’s Day I make ham and eggs and dress it up a little with some green food coloring. We all love it! Gary probably wouldn’t be too crazy about it, but he’s always at work when I make it anyway. Kelsey helped me cook this year. It’s so nice to have some kids that are old enough to help with things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.

I ran out of green food coloring, but never fear – we know that yellow and blue makes green, so we just used blue food coloring instead. There was one small problem though. The ham wasn’t yellow, so it didn’t turn green. It turned blue. But nobody seemed to care about the color; they just loved the flavor.

Emma was so cute. She ate some last year but didn’t remember it. She looked a little bit unsure of the green stuff on her plate at first. But she’s a trooper. Not much can stop her from eating. She dug in and ended up loving it.

Spirit-led Scheduling

I have 10 children from 19 mos up to 19 yo. I don’t have things down perfectly. Sometimes it feels like I can only either get school done
or get the house clean. I have a few things that have been helping me lately. I’m always working on this. One thing that has helped me get the kids to do more chores is www.chorebuster.net It divides the chores among the kids after I filled in the ones that needed to be done and
how often each needed to be done. It allows you to give the younger ones fewer and easier chores. But the kids accept the assignments as fair, because they know a computer assigned them, not me. And each of them gets to learn how to do each chore at their ability level. It takes some time to set it up, but then the program works automatically to assign chores each week. I have an ideal schedule made up, but we hardly ever follow it. Chores are supposed to be done right after breakfast. Then I do together school with the 6 oldest, which consists of my reading aloud to them. I do Bible and History, using books from the Sonlight reading list or other books that are related to the unit we’re studying. I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead our homeschooling each day, then I do pretty much whatever I think of. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, I can’t think! So whenever a plan or title comes into my mind, I figure that’s Him! I also use the Narrated Bible and Genesis: Finding Our Roots and other books that Heart of Wisdom recommends to do our Bible time. We pray together to start things off. We put our spiritual armor on first thing. I have the 10-year-old and the 8-year-old work on Phonics and Math on their own during this time.

I’ve gotten a lot of help from www.cindyrushton.com for scheduling and doing unit studies and notebooking and lapbooking. This is the schedule I used 3 years ago. I put the 4 oldest together to try to get most things done, then they did math and language arts on their own. Then I grouped the 6 and 8 year old together for some things. The twin 3-year-olds sometimes did preschool with the 6 and 8 yr. olds. They liked being teachers. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t. The older kids took turns watching the baby while I was reading to them. If the chores hadn’t been finished before school, I had them do them after school. But by that time, my husband was usually home from work, and we had to fix supper. I’m getting the older ones to help with that. And a big thing that someone suggested that really helped me was to have the older kids do their own laundry.

My 16 year old prayed about what his responsibilities should be, and he said the Lord told him to clean the dining room table every day, vacuum around the dining room table and the living room and do the dishes every day. Those are the main things that make the house look company-ready. Since he started doing these chores things have looked pretty good most of the time. If we know someone is coming, usually it doesn’t take too long to make things look pretty spiffy, by my standards! My standards aren’t very high after all these years and all these children, but I know what’s livable for us and what’s reasonable for me to expect.

I am doing school mostly with just Bible, Math and living books. It’s working for us. I feel really good about what my children are learning. We talk about relationships with others, too, and walking in love and forgiveness. Some days we just talk about what the Lord has been laying on my heart or my oldest son’s heart. But I still feel like they’re learning the most important things on those days.

We don’t have a whole lot of fellowship with others. The ones who drop in on us are single people! It’s really hard to get together with other families right now. But I consider it a season that will come to an end some day, and then we can have people over for dinner and go to others’ houses. My main ministry right now is to my own children and husband. I’ve finally accepted the fact that this is enough. God is pleased with me.

As far as crafts and nature study, I think I will take days off from the regular
schedule and devote most of a day to these extra activities.

My menu planning is: I make a list of meals for the week, make a shopping list, go grocery shopping on Sat. or Sun. and then try to remember to look at my list every day when it’s close to meal time! My husband and I go grocery shopping together. It gives me time away from the house and gives us time together.

A Snapshot of Our Homeschool Routine

I’ve found that as my kids got older, they wanted to learn more on their own. Once I taught them to read, they could each explore things they’re interested in. Well, they could do some of that even before they could read because the older ones would read to the younger ones.

But I have kept doing “together” school with the oldest 6, who are 19, 16, 14 and 12, 10 and 9. And it mostly involves reading a good historical fiction book, missionary biography or historical non-fiction book to them. We almost always have at least one read-aloud going. Our main goals each day are to pray together and share anything the Lord has been speaking to us and put our spiritual armor on and to read the read-aloud. I have relaxed lessons with the younger ones as things come up during the day, and as the Lord gives me ideas. I have 10 kids all together, so I have to take things as they come. I can’t make my baby nap right when I want her to or my 3-year-old sit still and be quiet when I’m reading to the older kids. If I try to structure things a lot, I get frustrated and angry and upset. Things rarely go the way I plan. So I leave things loose and trust God to take up the slack for me.


I have Math curricula for each level (Teaching Textbooks for 3 of them), and I check with them to make sure they’re moving along in them. They each have areas that they like to study. They use the Internet. My oldest listens to audiobooks from Librivox, and he has listened to many Classics that way. If they want to know something, they research it. My oldest son is doing Geometry now, on his own. He’s using Life of Fred. He’s studying Chemistry because that is the subject he chose. He doesn’t like Biology, but he did Apologia Biology last year, because I asked him to. Last year, his main area of study was the Bible. That was what he chose. He is a very responsible, advanced, intelligent young man. He helps me so much with the younger kids. I couldn’t do it without him.

My parents used to wonder about what I was doing with the kids. We live far from them now. They came to visit a while ago, and they were very impressed with our oldest son. They were impressed with his respectful attitude and his willingness to work. They are now saying good things about my kids. They used to just not say much of anything. I think they still wonder about us not being on the same time schedule as the rest of the world, but it’s okay. If my son doesn’t want to graduate from homeschool at the end of this year, I’m not going to make him. Having another year with him will be just fine with me.

Help for Creating a Family Mission Statement

There’s a new website to help families create their Family Mission Statement. It is engagefamily.com. This is a Christian site that will help your family find the words to express the purpose of your family and then put it in an attractive form on a magnet that you can display on your refrigerator where the whole family can see it every day. They are fulfilling an important role in supporting families. I believe that this practice is vital in pulling a family together and helping them to seek the Lord together to find out what His purpose is for their family and the message He wants them to convey to the world.

We started doing this years ago after I read the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey.

I wrote about our family’s mission statement here.

One thing that Stephen Covey said in his book that really encouraged me was that we should not expect perfection or get frustrated when we miss the mark. He said that setting these goals would at least give us something to shoot for. If we are aiming at nothing, that’s what we’ll get. But if we have a target, we are more likely to do better than we would if there was no target at all. There would be something that our family could rally around, a plan that would promote unity and define what kind of family we are and what we’re all about.

Several months ago, we were assessing how we’ve been doing in living out the mission statement we came up with, and I realized that we had become that family that I was hoping and dreaming that we would become. It’s all by the grace of God. He is strengthening our family, and I pray that something I share here will help someone else strengthen and build a loving, godly family that will be able to make it through any storm or trial.