Thursday, March 31, 2011

Small Successes

As we're running about trying to get more done than is's really helpful to look back out week and see that WE DID DO SOMETHING

1.  I've planned a day off of school to take the kids to the zoo.  We'll be working into the summer anyway and our membership expires in just days.  We don't get a zoo membership every year, and the kids have been asking to go.  We are fortunate to have two zoos in our area.  One is free (small donation), this one is not free....but oh so great!  And....when you have a family our size, if you go to most places 1 1/2 times in a year - you 've paid for the membership.

2.  Speaking of working into the summer....I am making a list of items to change the way we run our school year.   We will be doing a family J term class (maybe history or geography)..we will cut down on math and phonics (but not take a month off those).  January is our time of numerous long weekends for snowmobiling as a family...we decided it's better to take the family time than pass on the opportunities rather than get done mid dh's busy season is in the summer.  We will also be really continuing school this summer.  I am not ready for a 5 week on 1 week off sort of school year.  But, we will be doing math and phonics/reading and some grammar/writing all summer.  Maybe 3 days a week...30 minutes each....something like that.  I want to do something so that we can lighten our load during the school year and be able to take advantage of things of some opportunities that arise during the school year.  (like soccer that starts soon on a weekday morning)  With my kids in grades 11,7,6,3,1,K and a toddler our days are quite packed with me trying to manage everything.  My middle kids help out with a small amount of teacher's aid type work with the younger ones.  But, the success is I have started considering ideas and am getting them written down.  In a way I wish I had started this when the kids were all younger so it would be more normal to them (not everyone is thrilled with summer school :) )  But, when your oldest is in 2nd really do have the freedom to take a day off and go to the zoo.  And...while I know that you can consider lots of outings educational....going on them takes time away from math lessons, etc. 

3.   I finished my part of the federal tax return so my husband can finish it up.  Next job...educational expenses for the state tax deductions.

and a couple of prayer requests?  For a prudent decision on whether or not to purchase our "dream home" and for a personal intention that could be taking up a lot of my time over the next couple of weeks.  It needs to remain a secret until it is done.  A few people know about this.  This is not anything exciting but could be very time consuming for me and upsetting for the kiddos.....But prayers are requested to make it as smoothly as possible.

I don't know if Crunchy Momma will post any successes.  But check out her idea on managing toy clutter below.....that is a MAJOR success.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can I do this???

It is that time of year again. My thoughts turn to spring cleaning and all that goes with it. A friend recently said she got rid of half the toys in her home. HALF!! She said no one missed anything and the kiddos have been keeping up at putting things away. That seemed like an impossible mission. Plus, the way my friend accomplished it seemed a little drastic. But after discovering that the basement was a disaster once again, I decided to give a method I came up with a try.

Granted I have not been doing half, but the progress I have made has been significant. This is the way I have been doing it....

Every evening I have been picking the room that needs help the most. Right before the kiddos' bedtime I say, "We do not have much time, but I would like to pick this room up a little at least and vacuum it. Can you find the things that are important to you and put them away? It would make my job easier" I make it sound more like "a little cleaning will due for now" rather than hinting that I am going to throw/give other things away. I do not make them go to bed but I find after a few minutes they lost interest and most of the important things have been put away. Then they go to bed.

That is when I start. I pick up an item I think is worth putting away and do so. Then I must choose an item that goes into the trash or donate bag. When the floor is clean, I am done as I do not do anything with toys that are put away. Then I quickly vacuum and put the trash in the outside trash can and the donate items in a black trash bag in my husband's car trunk. None of the kiddos have suspected a thing. But the front room and the main toy room have been a lot cleaner and people have actually been putting things away on their own!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Small Successes


Sometimes it's especially important to recognize our small successes for the week.  As moms, we are often so busy with all the little details of life that we it's easy to fail to recognize that, yes, we did achieve SOMETHING!

  1. I took the kids for a walk down by the lake AND I let them run down the path with little fear of oncoming bicyclists at this time of year (generally our kids earn the freedom to walk ahead of me only after they have mastered staying to the right).  We did see a few joggers.
  2. I am gradually working my way through my portion of the tax prep paperwork.  My dh, being a private tax accountant, does nearly all the work.  But, I do have a small part to play.
  3. I've been letting my kids play in the sandbox with their so cute to see them all dressed up in winter gear...finally getting the chance to dig in the sandbox.....but it brings in more sand than ever since it's all stuck to them when they get out!
Can we list our failures too?  How about our successes gone wrong?  Just kidding.  Actually, these are kind of

We packed all the really warm winter gear away and pulled out the wrought iron table and chairs - we thought it was spring.  God had other plans. I apologize everyone, that one may have been my fault. poor kids had to go dig out their gear so they could spend an hour shoveling the driveway.

I've been working on some new recipes with help from the kids.  Last night we made Ginger chicken.  It took about an hour to slice thinly slice everything just right, cook it, mix up the sauce, etc.  The very last thing I added was "fresh" cilantro.  I didn't want to buy real fresh cilantro when I went shopping because I didn't think it would last, and this was just too fresh and yummy of a recipe to use my dried stuff.  Well, this "fresh" cilantro comes in a tube.  I squirted it in, and only then, as Henry was stirring it together, did I read the ingredients.  Whey.  AAARRRGGGG.  Nearly 1/2 my family is allergic to milk and I already knew the youngest two wouldn't like it and I had forgotten to save some plain chicken for them.  Well, Henry had really wanted to make a recipe he had created anyway.  So, he did.

We had an appt with our chiropractor across town yesterday morning. Normally this would be a 40 minute drive.  With all the snow we got yesterday it was 90 minutes!  I have been so tired know that kind of down to the bone tired you get during the first trimester of pregnancy?  That kind of tired.  But, NO, I am NOT pregnant, I am certain of that.  I've tried extra iron, that didn't help either and it makes me nauseous.  So, I wanted some help with this one and sure enough he figured it out - though the fix will take some time to work.   But, I was yawning so much I was having a hard time sitting upright and I joked that I had given up pop for Lent (I am not a coffee drinker, and normally not a pop drinker...but the last 6 weeks or so I have been drinking Pepsi in an effort to make it through the day).  He told me I had a medicinal excuse/responsibility to buy a pop on the way home...I bought a Coke...'cause I prefer Pepsi :) He knows I have a tendency to get very sleepy behind the wheel anyway.  It worked, we made it home safely, and said some prayers for all those in the ditches on the way.

So, this week has been a week of......OK are having some fun with me, eh?  Lightening up my life?  Thank you for protecting us from anything horrible...I am seeing the humor in this :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winter - Spring - Winter

A beautiful day for a walk down by the lake.

8:00 am....and still snowing

1:00 pm

I bet Crunchy Momma is glad she moved half way across the country!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Small Successes

For more small successes click on the link above.

  1. Had a 1 hour snowball fight with the kids even though I had a load of things to correct.
  2. Played PS3 with the kids.
  3. I directed the completion of ALL the laundry - without doing hardly any of it myself - and during a week when 2 kids seemed to come down with the flu.  My dh has been on me to not spend any time doing something the kids can do :) Funny thing though....when my 5 and 7 year olds asked for some PS3 time I told them they would have to fold a load of laundry first.  I expected them to fold one of the many baskets of stuff sitting in the laundry room since that morning.  Instead they folded the load directly out of the dryer.  Only thing was this was the load to HANG UP...dh's dress clothes for work.  It wasn't discovered until I sent more children down later.  Crunchy Momma always tells is relative....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stopping to look at cows

If you live where we do then there are no flowers to "stop and smell the flowers" in the winter.   So, stopping to look at cows is the next best thing.

My husband took Anna(16) and Logan(3) snowmobiling a few miles from our house yesterday.  Logan loves snowmobiling and when they got home he told me his favorite part was, "Looking at the cows!"  My husband said he stood there looking at those cows for a long time, and when asked if he was ready to ride some more Logan's response was, "No." 

When Anna and Logan were getting their helmets Anna told him they needed to get him the lightweight one so he wouldn't be walkin' around like a bobblehead.  We didn't know this conversation had taken place, which made it more amusing when my husband was getting him ready and he started wiggling his head around saying, "Walkin' around like a bobblehead."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Small Successes


Once a week we take the time to remember our successes throughout the week.  Many of us (most of us) are very busy and there simply aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish what we wish we could.  It's at times like this that recognizing our small successes is even more important..otherwise...the list of undone items can really drag us down.

  1. I set up an appt with our realtor to look at the "dream house" we found about a month ago.  We never did win anything off that lottery ticket we bought (hehe) but the price really dropped so I figure God was saying, "just go look".  Well, that and think Crunch Momma has been pretty consisent in sending me very short emails urging me to go.
  2. I made a phone call to schedule a medical procedure I was supposed to have done months ago. 
  3. I started reading a book to the kids at night called The Mitchells by Hilda Van Stockum.  It's set in America during WW2 and is about a family of 4 kids, 2 parents, and a live in Grandma.  The dad goes off to fight in the war.  It's a nice positive story with the kids working together to help their family out.  And...the kids in the story range from 18 months to 12 years old.  I read this book about 8 years ago, it's still a hit.
Please scroll down and read Crunch Momma's Small Successes.  She hasn't posted in a long time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Small Successes

Hi! Long time no post, eh? My micro successes this week are:
A. Finally gave in and upgraded the chores list. This means a bit of chaos as everyone learns their new jobs.
B. Planned ahead for Lent. Actually took down the artwork off the walls, got out the purple sashes and grapevine wreaths so the kiddos came down to them this morning - instead of halfway through next week, like usual.
C. Started spring cleaning!

What are your sacrifices for Lent this year? Do you have traditions that your family look forward to every year? This year I am going vegetarian and sugarless for Lent - not just on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. I will still be making meals with meat for the rest of the team.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Schooling the younger kids using Owl Moon and Five in a Row

This is my 12th year homeschooling, my how time really does fly!

Over the years I've changed my methods based on the needs of my children as well as on the desires of our family.  You know the old question, "If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?"  Well, I can lament that my oldest never learned Latin, or that my 6th and 7th graders just started this year.  Or that I didn't continue with math and reading lessons through the summer like I often planned to.  That's the beauty of having younger children.  I can do those things now!  My 4 youngest are in PreK, K, 1st, and 3rd grades.

One thing that I have added to our curriculum (well, I added a couple years ago but didn't enjoy it enough with the kids).  My first grader saw FIAR listed on his assignment sheet.  He was so excited, he told his younger siblings how fun that was when he and his 3rd grade brother used to work on them.  This year we are creating little books of their work.  Nothing fancy, just a 50 cent -3 hole type folder to hold all of their reports for the year.  Most of the ideas I get out of the FIAR book.  I also add other projects based on something I might want the kids to learn...or as in the case with our current book...what they are asking to learn.

We are reading and rereading the story Owl Moon.  It's about a young child who finally gets his turn to go owling with his father.  They go out in the moonlight in the middle of the night as quiet as can be hoping to see an owl.  I love how all the younger kids crowd around me to listen to it day after day.  They love talking about it in relation to what we have learned so far.  My 3 year old loves to point out the deer hidden in the woods.

So far we have
  1. The cover page with the title, author, and student name to print.
  2. A bunch of different type of small owl pictures I found on the internet for them to cut out and paste on a page.  They pasted the ones that live near us on the top, and the other ones that live in our state on the bottom. 
  3. A chart filling in the sunrise and sunset times for a couple weeks.  Did you know that each day we get 3 or 4 minutes of extra daylight right now?  I never knew the exact number myself.  I just wanted to start teaching them what it means when we say the days are getting longer at this time of the year.
  4. A page of hyperboles from the story.  They keep calling them exaggerations and that's OK.  I just wanted to point out that authors do use words to exaggerate to make something more interesting.  We have a ton of homework, we stared at the owl for 100 minutes.
  5. We also have a page of similes and metaphors.  I don't think they are getting a firm grasp on the difference, but they get the basic idea that it makes for interesting reading/writing and they are pointing those out in the book as we read it.  And, again, that's what I want them to learn.
I was ready to be done...having been out of ideas.  But they kids actually came to me yesterday asking if we could work on it again (that was Saturday!)  That's the kind of home school I want to have....they are excited and enjoying what they do (in addition to having things they may not enjoy so much).'s what we have planned this week (or two)
  1. House rules (the book stresses the importance of doing what is told..if any noise at all is made...they won't see an owl).
  2. Two different art projects on owls.  (6th grader Terese leads the kids in art projects 3 times a week, usually she chooses, but I think everyone will enjoy these easy projects.)
  3. Some work on identifying different phases of the moon. 
  4. Hopefully I can use the globe, a ball, and a flashlight to explain why the moon looks different to us at different times. is a little joke (true story) of something that happened at our house a number of years ago.  I think the two kids involved were 4 and 6 at the time.
We were driving home and the kids saw a 1/2 moon.  They thought it was neat but my explanation must not have made much sense to them because a little while later they were playing in the sandbox together and one child looked up and yelled to the other, "Look!  There's the other 1/2!)

Before this book we did Down, Down The Mountain and learned why the Blue Ridge Mountains are blue, where they are, what flora and fauna are indigenous to the area (well, I mostly wanted them to learn what flora and fauna mean).

I can't wait to pick out a new book, but for now I will continue with Owl Moon for as long as they are begging to!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Small Successes


Remembering our small successes helps us to remember that we are making progress.  In a time where many of us have more to do than is realistically possible, we need to remember that we are progressing.  My blog time has significantly reduced over the years (it was easy when I had a nursing infant to type single handedly.  Now my youngest is 3 and my time at the computer has decreased).

1.  I washed 2 bathrooms and and emptied the dishwasher a couple times.  These are normally my kids' chores.  But we've been "preaching" so long on helping out the family in whatever capacity we can...pick up that toy you just had to step over so no one else might trip on it, if you see someone's book laying on the floor, at the very least put it on a table or something.  Well, my 3 and 5 year olds were in the bathtub playing and my cleaning "chemicals" are rather "green" so I cleaned the entire bathroom  - other than the tub.  I was cooking something that required me to NOT walk away but didn't need 100% attention, so I emptied the dishwasher instead of calling the kid in to do it while watched.

2.  I've felt so busy lately I hadn't been using my planner.   This is NEVER profitable for me.  It's like saying I am too busy to pray.  I've learned...I really am too busy NOT to pray.  Anyway, my dd finally has her ortho appt.  A few other items are on the list to take care of now.

3. I made waffles and sausage this morning rather than have the kids eat cold cereal.  I'm trying to "fill them up" a little more in the mornings so they don't need a morning soon.

Bonus:  Things I have learned this week
1.  When the propane grill starts on fire it really is important to get close enough to turn off the gas supply and close the lid.   And...baking soda did work to put out the flames.
2.  It's important to listen to your child when they say they smell a little gas outside.  It could be a leak by the meter.  The Centerpoint technician was very nice and fixed 2 leaks for us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes I pay the kids to find a lost item for me, generally for something important like my keys or a cell phone with a dead battery.  Whoever finds it gets $1.

Here is a conversation from earlier today with my 5 year old.

Elizabeth:  Can I find your keys and get a dollar?
Me:  Um, no thanks, I know right where they are.
Elizabeth:  But I don't.

She stared at me for minute, like I was the crazy one, like it is some sort of game we play when kids are bored.  Apparently I've been good at hiding my panic/frustration....because I really don't offer this kind of cash except when I'm a bit desperate.

Thankfully no one has used that as a real opportunity and relocated the items themselves :)