Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dressing Up

 Because we had this going on almost daily....we have been trying to find and collect boy dress-ups this summer for our little guys.
 After we collected some cowboy/prince/dragon/dinosaur/spiderman costumes, then we had this going on!
And one day the boy and girl dress-ups collided into this!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Great Yard Sale Find

In late July, I happened to find a "yard sale" in a former health food/novelty shop that was going out of business.  Not only did I get some great Wyoming posters for my guest room and some Wyoming t-shirts for $1 each but they had cases of Wyoming-made chokecherry jelly marked down from $5 a jar to 24 for $20.  Needless to say, I bought a case thinking they would make nice Christmas gifts for neighbors and friends.

But these didn't make it to Christmas because I decided they would make excellent "thank you" gifts for all the families that helped us move and clean our new home.  I had planned to do cookie plates or baked good thank-yous for our volunteers, but these were much easier for a tired, pregnant mama and everyone loved them!


We have these a few times a week with supper:
Green spinach smoothies made with homemade yogurt and fruit.

On a less healthy note, my tastebuds always start longing for a caramel apple when the air turns cooler and the leaves start changing colors!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Mom, Where Are My Shoes???"

With 3 small children in a large house, shoes can disappear quickly.
We have one child, particularly, who can NEVER find his shoes.
I was so excited when someone gave us this pretty wooden bench, which fits in our entryway and found that it solves our shoe problems nicely.
The kids are told to keep all their shoes in this one spot.  No more stuffing them under beds, in bedroom closets, or random places throughout the living room.  If I see shoes discarded by the door or laying about in the schoolroom they immediately have to carry them down to the shoe bench.  This is the "central shoe spot" and when it's time to go somewhere, we all head down to the entryway and they grab a pair before heading out the door.
We have a lot of extra shoes thanks to good yard sale finds, hand-me-downs from everyone we know at church and from one sibling to the other.  Here, in the guest room closet where I store larger-sized clothing for the kids, I keep the Shoes-To-Grow-Into.  When a child's shoes begin to feel to too tight, we go "shopping" in the closet for a new pair or two. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Laundry Room Magic

Our laundry room still wouldn't be called a pretty place, but if you had seen it two months ago you would say it is looking amazing these days!  I think we got at least 2 dump loads of filth and garbage out of this room alone.  And the window that was sooooo caked with dirt and cobwebs that you couldn't even see outside is now sparkling clean and I can keep an eye on the kids playing in the yard while I'm folding laundry.
This is the right side of the laundry room. 
Yay for having a deep freeze again for my freezer cooking endeavors!
My drying rack gets used for delicate items and this is also where I hang my ziploc bags with clothespins for drying.  Potatoes go in the tater box and recyclables in the garbage bin. 

After reading this amazing book and being inspired by the super-organized Duggar family's idea of a family closet, I got to thinking that I should try to make a "family closet" in our laundry room. I also enjoyed this vlog from Stephanie on her family closet.

There was a shelf already in this room that wasn't being used, which was a perfect place to start.
I got a bunch of washtubs from the Dollar Tree to hold the kids' clothes.  As they grow, their clothing will be too big to fit in these small tubs, but hopefully by then they will also learn to fold and put away their own clothing, eliminating the need for all of their clothes to be in the family closet.

Since Josiah and I have a very nice master bedroom closet upstairs, our "family closet" is just for the 3 little kids downstairs, all of whom have had trouble with scattering clean clothing about their rooms, and have had a hard time keeping their closets and clothing tubs orderly. I was also letting the clean laundry pile up too high on the folding table because of that extra effort required to get the clothing to the appropriate bedroom.  I don't mind washing or folding laundry, it's putting it away that I hate!

I have one basket for Katrielle's stuff, which is just a holding pen for it until it is taken upstairs to her dresser in our bedroom.  Each child has a sock bin and an undie bin, there is a swimsuit box where all the kids' swimsuits are kept, and the boys each have a shirts and pants box.  Ali's main clothing boxes are under the folding table and contain skirts, shorts, and pants in one, and shirts in another.  Sweatshirts, dresses, church clothing, etc. hang in their closets in their bedrooms.

Now that all of the kids' regular clothing is in one spot, it is soooo much easier for me to keep on top of the laundry and keep it put away where it belongs.  And it is UNBELIEVABLE how much cleaner their bedrooms are as a result!  It saves me so much time and energy not having to run piles to different rooms and not having to rewash clean clothes that were thrown in the hamper by kids who just assumed they were dirty because they were on the floor.  Now Jer doesn't have to ask if he has any clean underwear (because Mama hasn't gotten around to putting it away in his room) and we don't have to dig through piles and baskets to find clean socks.  Getting the boys dressed each morning is a snap as everything is in one place and Daddy doesn't have to be confused over which socks belong to which boy (since the tubs are now labeled with names).  The kids' laundry is quickly sorted as it goes straight from the dryer, to the table, to the bins.  Pajamas still go in the kids' rooms; Ali has a hanging closet organizer that holds hers and each of the boys have a shallow plastic tub under their beds filled with pajamas ( undies...I don't fold =).
The left side of the laundry room.  A shelf near the door holds my iron, dustbuster, laundry soap, Oxiclean, a Stray Socks box, and cleaning rags.  God provided this wonderful washer and dryer set for $200  for us this summer when I happened to mention in front of someone at a yard sale that we were looking for a set.   They work great!

In the future I hope to have Josiah install a hanging bar above the washer and dryer that can be used for hanging dresses and blouses immediately after they are pulled from the dryer.  We will probably also do a lot more cleaning and some painting and freshening up down here, but at least for now, it's a very functional room for our family!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Question from a Reader

I'm not very good about getting back to those of you readers who ask questions!  If you ask 2 or 3 times you are very likely to get an answer, so just be persistant!

One question, asked by Carrie, was how I implement the Melissa and Doug chart featured in this post, for more than one child.

The Responsibility Chart is more of a family-as-a-whole chart at our house so if everyone has brushed their teeth, or all of the kids have been good about clearing their plate, cleaning up toys, etc. they get a magnet put on.  If only one child is doing something, then the kids who need to work on it will be admonished to do better tomorrow and I may put a magnet on just for the kid who did complete the chore.  Often they do chores together anyhow, like cleaning up the living room, all brushing teeth together before bed, etc..  Each day when we do our chore chart time we will review the things we need to work on for the week and I'll ask each of them how they are doing in that area.  For individual rewards, I have a little paper chart hanging on the wall with their name on it above the homeschooling table that contains 25 blank boxes.  Each time they say a memory verse or Ali reads a Beginning Reader book, or they answer me with a "Right away, Yes Ma'm!", do an extra chore, have an extra-cheerful attitude about schoolwork, exhibit a character quality we are working on, etc. I put an X in a box on their chart.  After 25 X's they get to choose a prize from my prize box.  My prize box is a plastic tub full of exciting little plastic toys, something I found in our shed this summer that was left over from my missionary work at Camp Good News as a teenager.

Each family has to find their own groove for chore charts, whether they will be by the individual or by the group.  For our family of very small children, the group method works for now.  If they are making progress on their chart and most of the boxes get filled in with a magnet during the week then they get their allowance, which at this point is 2 cents per week for Justus (just so he can feel big and have some offering like the other kids), 30 cents for Jer, and 50 cents for Ali.  If they completely disregard the chore chart or have a terrible week about doing chores then allowance will not be given out.  At this point in time, I see myself as the main facilitator of the chore chart.  My kids are so little that I am primarily responsible for enforcing the cleaning up of rooms, the morning routines, the reminders to clear their plates off the table after dinner, the brushing of teeth, and so on.  At some point we may move to a system where they take charge of their own list of things to do each day but for now, the responsibility chart is a good reminder for me each day of what I need to lead and train the children in doing.

Seeing Spots!

On Tuesday, I woke up to a big surprise.  Jer was covered in little red spots!  So last week was one of isolation for our family as we cancelled playdates and stayed home from the park helping Jer get through chicken pox.  So far, the other two have not gotten it although I check them each morning hoping to see spots.  The sooner they catch it, the sooner they can get over it and we can get back to socialization. I don't know where Jer caught it since no one we know has chicken pox, but I am thankful it has hit our home when my kids are very young.  After it's all done with I will have 3 children who are fully immune to the pox for life, without needing to get them booster shots or wonder if their immunity will wear off in adulthood.  For those whom are wondering, we do NOT vaccinate against chicken pox and prefer for our children to gain immunity through having the actual illness. 

I have been amazed at how easy it has been for Jer to deal with.  Calamine lotion and a couple of baths a day in oatmeal water has soothed the itch and I haven't had to tell him not to scratch.  After four days, his spots are mostly gone and no longer itchy.  He has not been extra whiny (which if you know Jer, is a miracle) and has done his schoolwork as normal and has had normal amounts of energy and appetite.  I remember having chicken pox at age 10 and I was utterly miserable and laid on the couch for over a week with chicken pox in my mouth, on my eyelids, and in my hair.  I had at least 5x as many spots as Jeremiah.  It is definitely harder for older kids or adults than for tiny kids!
So, in the meantime....we play a waiting game....hoping Ali catches it soon so she won't have to miss all 2 weeks of homeschool swimming which starts tomorrow, but at the same time being thankful that God allowed this illness to hit our family BEFORE Katrielle's arrival.


7 Months
One day the kids came upstairs looking like this
Ali is on a "no toys" kick right now because she's sick of cleaning her room, so I took her bin to use for her little sister's things in my room. 
A dresser and changing table set up in my bedroom.
One friend gave me this beautiful crib that she no longer wanted and another one gave me this pretty pink crib set.  For now it is in the guest room but it will go upstairs when Katrielle outgrows her bassinet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Character Qualities Pageant

A friend and I were talking at a swimming playdate this summer and she mentioned that her husband calls me "Miss Peace Like a River."  I almost laughed out loud.  Boy, if my husband and kids heard that, they would surely set him straight about how impatient and un-peaceful I can be on many a day (esp. when I'm in the family way!)  I appreciated the compliment, but I knew it would be more appropriate to call me "Miss Blows Like a Steam Engine Over The Slightest Thing."   As I thought about that comment I came to the conclusion that I would like to be "Miss Peace Like a River"  and to be patient with my family all of the time, even when outsiders aren't watching.  I have a long way to go, but it is one of my goals to strive for.

Wouldn't it be amazing if we as a society prized character above physical beauty?  Or even if those of us who are Christians spent as much time trying to be kind, gentle, loving, merciful, generous, patient, forgiving as we spend trying to look nice on the outside or trying to earn the approval and admiration of others?
The world is so backwards in its' thinking about what is important in life and oftentimes, those of us in the Church follow its' lead.  The women with the stick figures, big smiles, flashy jewels, and perfect make-up get the crowns and awards, when inside, they may be spiritually bankrupt and empty and treat others contemptuously.  Worldly men lust after those outwardly beautiful women, causing many women to believe their worth truly is in their looks and that they won't be loved by men or have friends unless they meet a certain standard physically.  Read 1 women's magazine off the racks and you'll be bombarded with 100 ads for new beauty products and articles that seek to convince you that you need to have this or that body or wardrobe makeover to look good. 

But, in God's eyes, the women who are the pageant winners are the women who possess inner beauty, "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4).  Notice that this kind of beauty is unfading, unlike our physical bodies which will all grow older, more tired, more weak, more saggy and baggy and gray.

This weekend I hung out with some beautiful, unfadingly gorgeous women of character at a ladies' retreat.
Women like:
Mrs. Prays Like a Warrior
Miss Unshakeable Faith
Miss Believes in a Sovereign God
Mrs. Humble and Broken but Healed by Christ
Miss Transformed
Miss Sweet and Gentle Spirit
Mrs. Gracious and Giving
Mrs. Faithful For Many Years
Mrs. Uses Her Gifts for The Glory of God
Miss Joy-full
Mrs. Self-Controlled in the Face of Temptation

These inwardly beautiful people are so encouraging to be around!
They inspire me to be more like Christ.
God prizes character.  He's all about the heart.
Therefore, I want my home to be a place where character is valued above outward appearance. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Unofficial Bartering" also known as "Friendship"

A friend admired Ali's haircut I had given her. 
She asked me to trim her daughter's hair.
I did so with fear and trembling, because I really don't know what I'm doing
and the fact that Ali's hair turned out cute was somewhat of a fluke.
After the haircut she gave me a big bag of garden produce
Including these bright cherry tomatoes.
Sharing our gifts with one another...
....the beauty of friendship.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hands-On Activities

Playing with Moon Sand for one of their hands-on activities.  I bought it from a fellow homeschooling mom's yard sale for $3 and we all love it!  I confess, I love making stuff with them in moon sand, it's got such a cool texture!
Eating "Alphabet Pretzels" that they helped me make on the first day of school.

Each day, I try to provide one hands-on experience for the kids.  Here is a list I made for myself of things we can choose to do:

Cornmeal Tub
Rice Tub
Beans Tub
Moon Sand
Cooking Project
Cuisenaire Rods
Wooden Textiles
Duplos or Legos
Playing with water

Tour of Our Schoolroom

I've shown this before under my new house pics, but thought I'd show it again so you could get a glimpse of my "schoolroom" for homeschooling.  This huge closet in the large living room is one of my favorite things about our new house.
One side of the closet....
......the other side.

Justus standing in front of the school closet.
Our very large school table.  Considering that half of this table was all that would fit in our kitchen in our former home and was used for an eating/sewing/crafts/snacks/school table, it is a wonderful luxury to have a table all for school!
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