I have been silent on social media the last month, but my life has been anything but calm. Kevin and I bought Woods Furniture in Clarkesville, Georgia on January 3, 2019 and my feet have been running ever since.
How do I mold a homeschooling life with four children ages 13 to 2 with an entrepreneurial spirit?
A.K.A. Are you still homeschooling?
Yes, I am. For now. Will it be forever? I don’t know yet, but I am hopeful. Let me begin by saying that I don’t do it alone. My mother said that it takes a lot of people to run my life. I would agree. I have both a full-time babysitter and a part-time babysitter–who also do laundry–and love my kids. They are each amazing in their own ways and bring so much to our family. My mom lives with us in a “terrace-level apartment.” (Most of you would call it the basement.) She helps me with taxi-service, entertaining Morgan and Lillie while I have time with Mont in the mornings, and staying with Morgan so he can get a nap while the older kids go to activities. I have a housekeeper that cleans once a week. We have a store manager, a bookkeeper, an accountant…all of whom are stellar. My prayer life has been strengthened by this http://encounteringpeace.libsyn.com daily Christian meditation. This has allowed me to calm my overly-busy brain and center on Christ. I am not Super Woman or Super Mom. I’m not pretending to be. I AM good at finding the right people to surround myself with in the journeying. I become part of their circle and they become part of mine.
Let’s be real. If I plan to spend four hours a day homeschooling kids, growing a new-to-me business for eight hours a day (and dreaming about it for at least ten more), and sleeping eight hours…well, there are some things I have chosen to outsource. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is not for everyone…but this is my story, right? Edwin and Mont are heavily involved in community theater (TWO community theaters at the moment, actually.) I have help getting them where they need to go, making sure they are fed before they get there (for the most part), and have clean clothes to wear while they are there. I have chosen to NOT spend large amounts of my time in the car running them up and down the road or sitting waiting on them to finish. I use this time in the afternoons and evenings to work on my business.
What does my typical morning look like?
I start my day around 6:00am with prayer and planning. The days that I do this are the best for sure! I meet Edwin at 7:00am as he stumbles downstairs in his pajamas. We talk from 7:00am-8:00am–mostly about schoolwork–what he read the day before, what I expect him to do this day, making out a list of assignments, chores, and activities. We also talk about life–you know, typical Mom and Teenage Son stuff. Usually at some point during this process, Morgan and Lillian wake up and come sit with us in the schoolroom. It interrupts our one-on-one time, but that’s just a fact of life when you have four kids. The good-morning snuggles are worth it.
Lillian is in pre-K. She knows her letters and letter sounds, can count to 100, likes to practice writing her letters, and is starting to read three and four-letter words. She doesn’t really need much else for school. She enjoys sitting down and “doing school” with me, so I try to spend this time with her as often as I can. It really doesn’t require much time, though.
Mont needs the majority of my one-on-one time. Part of it is his personality. Part of it is just where he is in life–he will be ten is a few weeks. More of our school time is one-on-one. I have to sit on him a little bit more. I love this part of my day, though, and I think he does as well. Mont also loves to cook, so I try to engage him in that as often as possible. I use those boxed meal services to aid with food preparation. It’s about the same price as eating out, but it’s healthier for both body and soul. We eat at home more often and there is real cooking involved! (Yet, another thing that I outsource.)
Morgan. My sweet boy. He probably gets the least alone-time with me..but he has three big siblings and lots of others to wait on him and translate for him and pet him…so I think he will be fine–but maybe a little bit spoiled. Aren’t most baby-children a little spoiled?
I am also working my way through our current family read-aloud Mary Poppins. Kevin doesn’t really participate in this, but he is often in the periphery and doesn’t mind this tradition. All my kids read aloud to each other. Edwin and Mont share a room and read aloud together at night. My big boys read to their younger siblings at bedtime. Lillie has started “reading” to Morgan. It’s just what we do. It’s one of the ways that we love on one another. I used to read at bedtime, but bedtime has been so random lately with working late and evening play rehearsals that I usually read in the mornings.
My older kids are expected to complete a lot of their work independently. They also have chores that they are required to get done each day. Does this all flow seamlessly. Nope, but that’s part of parenting and part of training. It requires follow-through on my part, as well, to make sure that the chickens are getting fed and the math work is getting completed (and comprehended).
Do we still have date-night even though we work together?
Yes. Kevin and I are a well-oiled machine. We have been having a weekly date night for ten years now. It’s been the best thing that we could have done for our marriage and for our children. I can’t stress how important it is to carve out this time for one another.
I am still trying to get into the groove of being not only husband-wife and Daddy-Mama, but business partners. I had next-to-no involvement in his previous carwash business. This time, we wanted a business that we could grow together. Even though we share an office, we don’t spend a lot of time talking during the day. We both have our roles that we have naturally fallen into given our individual strengths and talents. This is why date night is important. Some people say date night is where you don’t talk about work or the kids. I think that is bologna! That’s all we talk about on our date nights!!! It doesn’t have to be conversation over red roses and candle light. Frequently our conversation is over a shopping cart at COSTCO. Are there any footie pjs in size 5T? What kind of bars would the kids like for breakfast? Which kind of sparkling water is on special? Do we need milk? What do we need for the office? It’s not romantic, but it’s Us. We enjoy doing Us.
What am I doing at work?
There is a huge pressure to update the store. There is no Facebook page. No Instagram. The website hasn’t been updated in over a year. There is also no POS system. All tickets are written by hand and wrung up at the end of the day in a century-old-cash register. (No exaggeration.) We are often overwhelmed by the lack of technology. The paper trail is deep and wide. I have taken ZERO pictures of the store. (How is that even possible?) Can I have a social media presence with ZERO pictures? We don’t even have that stereotypical picture of the two of us smiling and holding up the keys to our new business standing in front of the door. We just put our boots to the ground and starting working.
I am wearing more hats than I originally intended to wear. For now, I am handling all of the marketing with the newspaper, radio, magazines, and charities that we are supporting. I am the connection for the re-branding design company that is updating the Woods brand and also a retail consultant that we have hired. I am also researching vendors that would be fresh and exciting for our customers and building relationships with existing vendors.
I am learning design. Never in a million years would I have expected that my employment would have had anything remotely related to fashion. Never. God has a funny sense of humor. If y’all could see my living room. I have one antique, floral couch I bought for $35 from an auction three years ago. It’s my kids’ (and my cat’s) favorite couch. I have a broken, reclining loveseat we got from COSTCO about eight years ago when I made Kevin give up his recliner–only one side reclines now, and a green La-Z-Boy stationary couch that we got when we moved from Madison County eleven years ago because the couch we had then was too big for our living room. I have one coffee table that is ugly and too tall for the space–another auction find. We have two new cars, a custom-built house, nice clothes…but it was NEVER about the furniture with me. It’s really funny actually. (Note: I did remedy my living-room-furniture-situation yesterday. I have a new set ordered from La-Z-Boy in iClean fabric from the Urban Attitudes collection. This is a new stationary line that we are going to be carrying. I told Kevin I wanted to see if it would stand the test of our four children!)
So…How DO you crop a rainbow?
When I logged onto WordPress today, I was overwhelmed by my current blog space. I had designed it originally as a travel blog focusing on our family travels with four kids. Woodventures: Travels Big and Small is no longer a good subtitle. In God’s infinite wisdom, though, He knew that Woodventures was just the beginning for us. I had no way of knowing back in the fall of 2017 that we would be buying a furniture store. I need my Woodventures blog to reflect our current place. I needed a new profile picture, but I have nothing that feels appropriate–as I said, I haven’t documented at all up to this point. Really, though, I didn’t want to tweak my page…I wanted to WRITE. And RIGHT now. I can fix all the rest of the page later.
I decided to change my picture temporarily to a rainbow that I had taken from our back porch. We get the most beautiful rainbows here. It’s probably the main reason I don’t think I could ever sell this home. You can’t recreate the glorious effect of the rainbows that happen after the storm here. The rainbow symbolizes so much to me: God’s love, forgiveness, and promise of a bright future; Beauty in the rain; Fantasy, mystery, imagination, wonder. The Awesome blend of the spiritual and the scientific. So, I decided to use the rainbow picture this morning. As I was using my inferior WordPress skills to update my blog, I realized that the rainbow picture wouldn’t fit as it was in the profile picture spot. I had to crop it. How do you crop a rainbow? Do you cut off the left or the right? Do you just take the middle part? You can’t crop a rainbow, really, but I did because I had to. It made me laugh again at God’s love for me. I was wrestling with what to title this story–my story–of where I am today. How do I place a title on all of the growing, stretching, bending, and growing pains that this last month has brought to me and my family? This somehow seems to fit perfectly. How DO you crop a rainbow?