Q & A: Homeschooling while Pregnant, Sourdough Starter and Handling a Large Family

moms of many manageToday the  4 Moms of Many  are fielding your questions. I asked on Facebook what questions you would like to see me answer and you all are a curious bunch. With over 30 questions, I won’t be answering them all today, but we will add many to our regular 4 Moms topics for the upcoming weeks and I will try to get some more answers in upcoming posts.

Nicole and many more of you wanted some tips for being successful at homeschooling during a pregnancy.

1. Relax and let go of the guilt. Remember, not only has God called you to this pregnancy, he has called your husband and your children to this pregnancy. Morning sickness and tiredness  affect you, but they also affect your family as well. This is not a surprise to God. This is the best thing for your whole family.

2. Do what you can do. My priorities during the most difficult parts of pregnancy are listening to beginning readers and reading aloud. The longer I’ve been involved in homeschooling the more convinced I am that the greatest educational benefits that our children receive are not the textbooks, classes or work pages, but learning to live life by serving others and mom’s pregnancy provides great opportunities for service.

Over the past few months, as I’ve struggled through the beginning of this pregnancy, not a lot of formal school work has been done. However, our kids have been planning a garden, making a greenhouse and planting seeds. They found a lizard, created a habitat for it and have learned about it’s habits and needs. They have taken over all the sourdough bread, cracker, muffin, bagel, pancake, etc. making. They have taken over taking care of the kefir and the kambucha.  They have patched and painted walls, crocheted, knitted, sewed, etc. They have done a lot of cleaning and have helped play with and care for their siblings. They have menu planned, written grocery lists and gotten dinner on the table nearly every evening. And through all of this they have worked together as a team.

3. School year round. This allows your schedule to be more relaxed during the first trimester of a pregnancy without causing you to feel behind.

4. Teach your children to be independent diligent workers. Even though I’ve not been very involved in homeschooling the kids for the last several weeks, all of the children have continued to complete their everyday assignments without me.

5. Involve your husband. My husband is always pretty involved in homeschooling, but over the last several weeks he has taken over looking over the independent work that the children have completed during the day. He is always the math and Bible teacher and he also reads ‘character books‘ to the older children every night before bed. Honestly, if our children just did the things that daddy teaches, I think their education would be just fine.

Millie wondered how to make a sourdough starter.

Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship has some directions with pictures, but here are the basics:

  1. Put about 1/2 cup fresh ground flour (I used rye because it more easily captures the good yeast) and 1/2 cup water in a wide mouth pint sized jar (or other glass container). Cover the jar or container with a cloth napkin or paper towel, just so pests don’t get in, you want the starter to breath.
  2. Let sit on the counter for 12 hours.
  3. Discard 1/2 of mixture and feed 1/4 cup each of flour and water. Repeat every 12 hours.
  4. Stir vigorously at each feeding. The yeast you’re trying to capture require air to survive. I had the best results when I put a lid on my jar and shook it.
  5. Watch for bubbles to start appearing in your starter. As your yeast establishes itself you will see a period of bubbling, active starter. At this point in time the starter may have risen in the container. After this peak of activity, your starter will ‘fall’ and activity will diminish (that’s fine). Generally, when we get up in the morning our starter is well past it’s peak and looks inactive. It’s often most active 3-8 hours after being fed, so that’s the best time to check.
  6. You will need to continue the process of discarding and feeding for at least one week before you start making things with your starter.
  7. Remember, yeast is a living organism. Use common sense and help it thrive, even if that means not following the directions exactly. (i.e. when our starter was 3-4 days old and had had bubbles for a couple of day it seemed to ‘die’. I decided that instead of feeding it every 12 hours I would just shake it. It looked terrific the next day. I guess it just needed a little rest.
  8. Honestly, the best tip I can give about sourdough is to take the GNOWFGLINS Sourdough eCourse. I learned so much about how to manage and care for sourdough that we were able to move to 100% sourdough over the course of a couple of weeks. I could have learned through experience or research, but it would have taken up way too much of my time and probably ingredients

Karrie asked, “Why should the disabled not have children?

I don’t know. Why?

 Alicia snuck two questions into one, “How did you know you wanted/would be able to handle a big family?

I’ll answer the ‘wanted’ question first.

My grandfather and grandmother were committed to accepting God’s blessings despite  facing financial difficulties during the Great Depression and my mother was the youngest of their 10 children. I was always very cognizant of the fact that if my grandparents had been ‘wise’ in their family planning, I would not exist.

I’ve always been very thankful for my grandparents faithfulness to God, for my life and now for the lives of our 11 children. It’s only by God’s grace that we are here because the ‘world’ would say that my grandparents were ‘irresponsible’ and ‘foolish’.

Another factor in my desire for a large family was the fact that my mother faced cancer and as a result went through menopause when she was 35. My parents would have loved to have more children, but God’s plans were different than theirs.

I knew from that point that I was not guaranteed to have any children and that each and every child I was blessed with was God’s grace, something that I certainly didn’t deserve. I also have never, ever taken my fertility for granted and every child past the age of 35 has been an especial mercy to me.

How did I know I would be able to handle a large family?

I didn’t. I still don’t and some days I’m convinced that I can’t.

None of us can, not without God’s strength, mercy and grace. Honestly, do you really believe that you could do a ‘good’ (as defined by God) job of raising ONE child? Sometimes moms of many are just more aware of our dependance upon God than those who have less children.

It is our belief that God will give the strength, mercy and grace to do whatever it is that He has called us to do and so I believe that in August, I will have the strength, mercy and grace to raise 11 children for His glory, right now, I’m just focusing on being faithful with 10. 🙂


Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what questions they’re answering today:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room


For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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15 Responses to Q & A: Homeschooling while Pregnant, Sourdough Starter and Handling a Large Family
  1. Cindy
    February 23, 2012 | 9:10 am

    I love that “How did you know?” question. We are so wrapped up in knowing the future and controlling our outcomes in this culture! Probably in any affluent nation, but especially in America (aka Babylon). All of our wealth has given us so much control–some real, like birth control, and some illusory, like retirement planning–that we really think all of this stuff can and should be charted out before we begin. Like a newly graduated, freshly engaged couple knows what they’re going to be up to in 10 years!

    I never knew I wanted a bunch of kids. I just knew I was having a baby one day. And then came another, and then another. At no point did I ever say, “goodness, I’m gonna have to control this outcome!” That might be because I grew up poor enough not to think that I had to have my life planned out in a neat little path. Or it might be because I’m an idiot.

    Whatever the reason, I’m glad I accidentally forgot (or the Lord gave me amnesia) to get my tubes tied after the second baby, because it wasn’t until the third that I realized God should have control of my future and my family. 🙂


  2. A Mama's Story
    February 23, 2012 | 9:36 am

    This is a print out for sure! I have a rough time with morning sickness and feel it throws off my whole family. We usually see it as something I’m struggling with alone, and the rest of the family simply endures it.




  3. Courtney @ Alighterjourney
    February 23, 2012 | 9:55 am

    Thank you for this! Especially the homeschooling while pregnant. I am struggling right now, and I only have one of school age, the rest are still little. I have felt guilty, and probably still will, but your thoughts were encouraging and true! Maybe we’ll enjoy some couch time and reading today:)


  4. Allison
    February 23, 2012 | 10:52 am

    Thank you! Your answers were a great encouragement to me today.


  5. JoyFilledMom
    February 23, 2012 | 12:15 pm

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m exhausted this pregnancy and sicker than I’ve ever been. That being said, I haven’t been able to do as much schooling or housework as I normally do. I have been feeling guilty. Its a daily battle to release that guilt.


  6. Heather
    February 23, 2012 | 1:44 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. Just as I was finally able to fully embrace homeschooling ( a long story) I found myself pregnant with our 4th baby. This baby is such an incredible blessing, because my husband never anted to really have the third that came before this one ( not that he didn’t love them). Then I find out that i am pregnant, and even more wonderfully that my husband’s response isn’t “oh no” but “Praise God, I have been praying for this.” Little did I know that Wwile God was working on me to have a content heart, he was working on my husband’s attitude towards children. Praise God.
    That said, we are still dealing with our extended family’s attitudes toward children, and while I know I shouldn’t, I feel the need to constantly justify our “decision” to have this baby. It doesn’t help that this is the frist pregnancy where I have been anything but perfectly healthy. I am afraid to take it easy, I am afraid to ask for help, because I feel that if I aknowledge that this pregnancy is hard on me, it will be like aknowledging that they are all right- I have no business having a fourth baby ( or any subsequent babies I would love to be blessed with, for that matter). So instead, I just feel like a homeschooling failure pretty much every day. As hard as I try, I cannot get up early enough to be as prepared for the day as I would like,and I end up falling asleep during their rest time instead of getting my own work done.
    Thank you for reminding me that my homeschooling doesn’t need to look like public school at home. They will be okay…more than okay; they are learning about living by faith and by the only opinion that matters at all- God’s.


    abba12 Reply:

    This may not be applicable to you but, maybe if you can’t get up earlier to start the day, the day needs to start later. Bear with me here :). During my last pregnancy I had HG, and it was incapacitating until about 9am, at which point it became… tolerable (by the loosest definition of the word).

    If you usually ‘do school’ between 9 and 2, there’s no sense in trying to wake early and falling asleep in the middle of the day, you need your rest. Depending on arrangements with children you still may need to get up at a certain time, but let the kids have their playtime in the morning and change ‘school hours’ to 11-4. That way, you aren’t ‘running late’ when you don’t start at 9, you have plenty of time to get ready for the day while they play. Then try and arrange quiet or independent subjects for the time in the afternoon where you would usually rest while they play.

    You would have to tailor this to your own situation, but my point is, don’t run late every day, change the time at which ‘late’ is defined. I knew a family that, because of their circumstances, did their schoolwork between 3 in the afternoon and dinnertime! Make it work for you, don’t try and mould yourself to fit an arbitrary time.


    Heather Reply:

    Great idea. I had been contemplating that, but i have some kind of fixation that I *must* be up early.Someone else was telling me about a little thing going around that talks about the wrong assumptions we make about the Proverbs 31 woman, and the subsequent wrong expectations we put on ourselves because of it. She does rise early….but maybe there is also seasons in our lives to be easier on ourselves on that front 😀


    abba12 Reply:

    There are a lot of christian women around that talk about getting up at 5am before all the kids and if that works for them, great, wonderful for them! Sometimes I feel a lot of pressure to ‘rise early’ by these types because they swear it’s how they get everything done.

    But hidden off to the shadows 🙂 are a number of christian homeschooling mums who wake at 7, 8, or maybe even later! (I believe Amy from Raising Arrows is one of these people if you find encouragment from her blog) I have a quote from her saying her house dosen’t run any smoother whether she wakes up at 6am or 8am. Neither does mine, in fact depending on my state of pregnancy it will run worse at 6am. So my day begins at 7:30 when not pregnant, and as late as possible when pregnant, and that’s ok. I get everything done that I NEED to, sure it might mean I’m doing a few chores after dinner instead of before breakfast, but does that matter? I also get to stay up later for that much needed time with my husband, who is NOT a morning person.

    Don’t try to get up early just because everyone else is doing it. If it works for you and your family then absolutely, do it. But if it isn’t you, then don’t worry. You’ll get just as much done rising later. Some people DO get more done waking early, but that’s because it suits them and their families.

    And remember the proverbs 31 woman is doing a lot of things that mums of young families don’t have time to do, so maybe she is in a later season of life. It never talks about her being pregnant.


    Tori Reply:

    I am dealing with the same kind of thing right now. I’m at 15 weeks with baby #5 and feel like if I’m not the “perfect” pregnant lady that I’m being a bad witness. Just remember…this is only a season. Even though you may feel like a failure, you are not! You are raising children for His glory!


    Linda Reply:

    I feel similar…I am 6 weeks pregnant with my 7th child. I also work full time outside the home and homeschool my other 6 children. Exhausting!! One day at a time! 🙂


  7. abba12
    February 23, 2012 | 9:50 pm

    “Karrie asked, “Why should the disabled not have children?“

    I don’t know. Why?”

    Wait, what?? lol. I’m not sure what Karrie thought she was referring to. I was worried when I saw the question though, thinking you’d indicated such an idea. As a disabled mother myself, I simply couldn’t keep reading your blog if that had been the case! Glad it’s not 🙂

    I must say though, having one child as a disabled person causes ridicule enough, most people are happy for a persons first child, but it seems half the population thinks I shouldn’t have one or can’t care for one. I suspect it’s only going to get worse as I have more kids. I actually read a fancy study that indicates it has nothing to do with my ability to care for children at all, rather a bunch of psychological reasons that I won’t delve into here. It gives me a lot more confidence when facing up to those who are against my decision to have children.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:



    Jill Reply:

    People laugh at the idea of large families period, but for a disabled person to have a large family is “crazy.” I am glad God is the giver of all good gifts. When my husband lost his leg in an accident at 18, he was told he wouldn’t have any children. Well, the Lord has seen fit to bless us with six children. While my husband is not “able” to run laps with his kids, the lessons he has taught them and hundreds of others are invaluable. His “disability” has opened so many doors of witness to other amputees as well as able-bodied people that are amazed at his outlook on life.

    Is it easy? No. Are there trials? Of course, but we serve a God whose mercies are new every morning!

    How foolish to pretend to know better than God! And, as Kimberly has shared so many times regarding her mother’s diagnosis, life can change suddenly. Just because you are healthy and “able” when you bear your children, a moment/illness can radically change everything.


  8. Shannon
    February 24, 2012 | 7:59 pm

    Love the sourdough starter info, I love eating sourdough, just been a little scared to try it.


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