A Day in the Life of Natalie: a Work-at-Home, Homeschooling Mom of Nine
By Natalie, Contributing Writer
It’s Monday, September 9, 2013. This is week two of school. Ready. Set. GO!
I roll out of bed, shower, dress, throw in a load of laundry, bring up a tray of cured soap (I own and operate Apple Valley Natural Soap), grab some coffee and sit down in my “office” (a re-purposed family room with three walls) for some time with the Creator.
I’m just finishing up a powerful study in Ephesians using Wendy Alsup’s Bible study By His Wounds You are Healed. When I’m finished, I pray through the requests in my Bible and also pray for my children using the Setting Their Hope in God prayer guide.Camera shy. Bummer. He’s so adorable.
I say goodbye to my 17-year-old son, who is commuting to a local college where he is getting a degree in audio production. My almost-20-year-old son is already down in his office working. He runs his own business, Dual Digital.My office where I can work and still see everything going on in this level of our home.
All kids rise and shine, get dressed, make beds, eat breakfast (raisin rye toast with butter) and clean up. As they finish these morning activities (some are faster than others), they get started on their school.
While I’ve gone the Charlotte Mason/Classical route in past years, this year is different. We are doing 100% A Beka online video school. It’s sort of an experiment, but so far, I think I’ve found homeschool nirvana. I just blogged about this HERE and HERE if you want to find out more.
I put the little boys (1 year old and 3 year old) in the Cage in my office along with a bunch of Rescue Heroes and get started on making shipping labels for the packages that have to go out that day. I also field 379 questions, 5 arguments and one meltdown from various children who need help with different school and social issues – and I answer two customer e-mail inquiries as fast as I can when there is a lull in the chaos.The third grader reads her Bible.
I prepare some lye mixture and an essential oil blend for this afternoon’s batch of soap, and then I take the two little boys down to our playroom area. They play while I continue to help the kids with school (if I have to go upstairs quickly, I just plop the 1 year old in a playpen, so he’s safe for a few minutes).
I also manage to speed skim a book on blogging organization. (I love stuff like this – but I didn’t find anything new or profound in this particular book.)The second grader doing her school while the 1 yo who has just finished breakfast watches.
My kindergartener is finished with school now, so she and the two little boys watch Reader Rabbit while I pop a leftover roast from the night before in the oven for open faced roast beef sandwiches – and then give some concentrated school help to my third grader and sixth grader.
We eat lunch and clean up. (This is a picture of dinner though. Just checking to see if you are paying attention.)
I put the 1 year old down for a nap and help my second grader with reading. My 13-year-old daughter gets the oils ready for the soap while my 11-year-old son labels today’s cured bars and puts them on the shelf. My 5 year old and 3 year old are playing Playmobile. The rest are still doing school.The 8th grader at her desk. It takes the older kids longer to get done with their schoolwork.
I read two stories to the 3 year old and 5 year old and then put the 3 year old down for a nap. I help the 2nd grader finish up her homework for the day.
I sort mail, answer e-mails, post on my blog and business Facebook pages, and help kids with school as needed.One of the few pictures you’ll ever see of me. I hate pictures of myself. Dorky.
I mix up a batch of Pumpkin Pie soap while my 3rd grader reads to me, and then I clean up the mess.
I’ve got a hankerin’ for apple crisp since we are having the first fall-feeling day of the season (We are in MN, and it’s been almost 100 degrees for many, many, many days. We are not used to this kind of heat up here, and I seriously think I’m going to perish if it lasts much longer.), so I google “Best Apple Crisp” and find THIS (I love the Barefoot Contessa). I make it. Lo and Behold. It IS the Best! (I think the secret in this one is the 1/2 pound of butter. Yeah, Baby.)The 8 yo showing off the apple crisp. It looked much more amazing AFTER it was baked.
After I get the apple crisp in the oven, I work on The Pioneer Woman’s version of down home macaroni and cheese. (This is my favorite cookbook in the whole wide world. It will give you a heart attack, though.) I also throw together a salad. Then I clean up the mess and get the table set for dinner.
We eat an early dinner because I have to take the 8 year old and almost 10 year old to their first ballet class ever.
Ballet class. I am bummed. I thought I’d get to watch my ballerinas practice, but it turns out that 397 men, women and small children are packed like luggage into a room that is 2 feet by 2 feet with a window on one side that is sort of darkened, but through which one can sort of make out the outlines of chubby ballerina children pounding across a wooden floor. That is, if one can see past the other people in the small room. I don’t want to complain though. It is a Christian dance studio.
Feeling claustrophobic, I decide to head over to the Caribou Coffee shop a few doors down to get some work done. I write a blog post and then go pick up my girls, who excitedly dance out the door and into the parking lot – twirling and jumping to the car. That was a win-win for everyone.
My husband and I get in our Sprinter van with our 17 year old and 5 year old and go pick up a used China hutch we found on Craig’s List for our dining room. We sold all of our formal dining room furniture this past spring in order to turn that room into another office, and then we turned our sun room into a dining room (it was the only room big enough to hold our whole family around a table). I needed something to put my China in. We got a great deal! I’m happy.Joe and our son move the hutch into the sun room/dining room.
I give the kids a snack, get them ready for bed, read their Bible story (using my FAVORITE Children’s Bible), and tuck them in with songs, prayers, hugs and kisses.
I move all my China into the hutch, stand back, and feel warm fuzzies all over.
I pack all the soap orders that came in that day.
Get ready for bed and read. I’m almost finished with Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior by Kimberly Wagner.
I’m off to sleep. And aside from being noisy and busy, it was a good day! I’m so thankful to God for this life He has given to me and the chance to share a little part of it with YOU!
Wow I take my hat off to you. I would love to homeschool my kids as well as run my business from but I know there is absolutely no way I could o it and stay sane! You are an inspiration to us all!
You are amazing! Its Fri 8:13 I’m watching fox & friends and reading blogs in bed! Lol! Its rare I get to do this but I do feel a little guilty – not enough to get.moving though!
I love your determination and love for your life, your peeps and God! You are awesome!
You make me want a soap business. and a teenage son. They seem useful 😛 (My kids are 6, 4, 20 months and 3 months)
Wow! What an amazing day. I’m a busy mum of four and I find my days are jam packed! I love the idea of a little playpen for the two littlies! Great idea – keeps the mess to a minimum! Bless you!
Oh my! I’m exhausted just reading this! Lol i’m expecting twins (number 6 & 7 ) and just signed up my girls (four total) for ballet and reading this just made me laugh!
This is nice to read. I have 2 kids now, a year apart, but they are still babies. We want a large family and I want to homeschool. I’m curious what you do when you have a nursing/bottle fed baby. I feel like I’m so bad at time management I might not be able to pull it off, but you are truly an inspiration!
Wow. I also just realized you use the Setting Their Hope in God book. The author is my husband’s friend and former roommate! Very cool.
Wow…I’ve been taken down a notch or two … or five. I only have three children (10-16) and some days I am overwhelmed! I signed up for your soap newsletter too. I can all but smell them through the computer; they look lovely. But I always say my teen boys will actually still hug their mother in public (of their own volition, no less), so I must be doing something right! Have a great weekend! :O)
Sounds like my days. I have 4 children and homeschool all 4 plus operate some small businesses and blog as well.
I have 6 children ages 1-12. This was very helpful to me to see how a large homeschooling family structure their day. I especially enjoyed reading what you did with your babies to keep them busy while helping the older ones. Thank you for this post. You have a beautiful family!
I am so glad I’ve stumbled onto your writing! A friend sent me a link to “Help! My Body is Falling Apart” yesterday:) and I just have to laugh at how similar our lives are – minus the soap business…in fact, I think we are completely out of soap at this moment, my husband just mentioned last night that he wondered how many families use Head and Shoulders as body wash. I told him we could call it Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes! He was not impressed, hehe. Our seven are 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, 1, and 4 months right now. We did the experiment last year switching from Charlotte Mason to A Beka (only with my oldest). Loved it so much that we’re continuing this year. My absolute passion is growing in the grace of our Saviour! We learn more of Him daily, so very undeserving, but eternally thankful! I only want my children to think biblically, and I’m thoroughly convinced that most of this training happens through conversation throughout our day. My husband and I are amazed that The Lord can use something as fun as a family to conform us into the image of His Son. Most of the time I think I might be going insane, but those mornings – those very necessary quiet mornings – keep our feet on the ground. God is good. May God bless you and your family, I’ll be delighted to check in and see what He’s doing in your life, thank you for sharing. I really wish I could have the chance to just sit and pick your brain sometime, haha!
Thank you for this post! I am wondering how you deal with all the transitions. My kids seem to take so long moving from one thing to the next. Schoolwork is taking forever around here. Maybe we are just still adjusting to the new year.
Love your soap, by the way! The Man soap is my husband’s favorite.
I love reading the “Day In The Life” posts and this one was one of my favorites. I also LOVE Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. I haven’t had a single recipe from her that I didn’t love. I will have to try out that apple crisp recipe, too. Need to use up all those apples we’re getting from our CSA share.
And that is pretty normal that they don’t allow parents to watch at dance classes. It really would be distracting to the kids. My daughter’s school has “Peek Week” twice a year or so. Those weeks the parents can go in and they show us what they do in class. I take the opportunity the two days she’s in dance class to go around the corner to the coffee shop or the library and read or knit.
Thanks sister, Great work you do ! You article encourages me as wife, as mom of 3 as leader. Before i thought that i prefer life before marriage but now i understand my purpose, what God wants me to do.
Natalie, you amaze me. I have always wondered how you do it all. Thanks for your commitment to God, your family, and the high quality soaps and so forth you make for us.