Saturday, September 18, 2010

Keeping it together

There's a lot of chaos in every home - I know it. But as you can imagine, there is plenty in this house with 7 active, loud children. Add to that the responsibility to feed them 3 meals a day, and educate them (a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 3rd grader, and two 1st graders!) and you are probably wondering how much hair dye I use to cover all the gray. Ha! Here are a few things that have helped me in recent weeks to make our home joyful and productive amidst the chaos...

Lesson plans written for the year.
This is the first year I have written out my lesson plans for the entire year. I have normally written them a week at a time. There is nothing wrong with writing them a week at a time, but if you have a slight leaning towards laziness, which I do, one can find themselves letting things slide. I would either be too tired to write the new week of lesson plans or maybe even forget to write them. Then I play catch up all Monday getting it organized. And if I'm looking at it all on Monday morning it is very likely the supplies I needed for a project never got purchased and now we just have to move on. OR, since there was nothing written in the blocks for the following week it was easy to just push off what was planned to days ahead. I'm not saying we never got school done, we did, it just wasn't as organized as I needed it to be.
So, I have used my regular planner. I love this kind because the month is spread over two pages with lots of room for writing...
Then, I took the pages dedicated to the individual weeks of the month (which I NEVER use) and made them into lesson plan boxes. That way my lesson plans are right with my planner that goes everywhere with me...
I spent a good deal of my summer writing lesson plans for every subject for every day. This has been AMAZINGLY helpful for me. Combined with our moving out to the dining room table it has helped me get done everything I need to do and everything I want to do. Because it is all scheduled I have done art projects and activities that have fallen through the cracks in days past. Plus, whatever supplies or books from the library I need I write in the "notes" section of the previous week. That way I am sure to have all supplies ready when we need them. I love being this organized. I will never go back - this is definitely the way I need to plan.

Having a daily schedule.
Having a schedule up with designated times has also kept us very productive. I thought there was NO way I could do all my schooling before lunch but when I put it all on paper it actually seems possible. And when I put it up on the chalkboard to keep us all on task it is very helpful. We don't have to follow it like it is the law but it gives us general guidelines for where we should be. I love it.
Posted Scripture Memory.
I have been horrible at implementing good scripture memory in my home. Sometimes we get good about it but it slowly fades and we go back to relying on all the Scripture music Cd's the kids have (which are WONDERFUL!). This year, since I have my chalkboard in the dining room, I can post our memory verse where everyone can see it. And with every meal we can review and say it together. I picked a program from that has memory verses for every week of the year. We are also doing it with friends so the kids can keep eachother accountable. It has been wonderful. Every woman I have talked to who has gone before me says they regret not doing more Scripture memory. How can I not take that to heart and try to be better at hiding God's Word in their hearts.

Posted Meal schedule.
Does it every drive you crazy to have your kids ask every day "What's for dinner?" Well, I have 7 that ask and since they are home with me all day they ask about lunch AND dinner. Now, full disclosure is that I am still a very fleshly woman. I wish I were more patient at this point in my life but I still struggle. And where I sweetly answer the first 2 that ask me about what we are going to be eating by the time I am being asked for the 6th time I might get a little testy at the unsuspecting inquirer. So I am have posted a meal schedule.
I have always written out a menu for the week while I make up my grocery list. Now I just do it on a little chart so the kids can refer to it instead of asking me. I have written out lunches and dinners for each day of the week (I've also been trying to do more creative lunches instead of pb&j over and over). When I'm feeling a little sassy I even color coordinate it.  It hangs inside a cabinet right by the kitchen sink for easy access.
They love knowing what we are having and I love not having to answer the question over and over.

Helping with room cleaning.
I want my kids to have clean rooms. I know some parents feel like it's a battle they do not want to fight and as long as their kid closes the door they don't mind. That is not me. I want to teach them to keep their room clean so they don't become crazy hoarders or awful spouses. I think it shows gratitude for what God has given us. I also realize that most of the time when a parent feel very strongly about something that is a non-essential, they will one day eat their words and completely change their mind!  But for now... (ha!)
I've found, however, that when they come out and say their room is clean it does not necessarily meet my definition of what is clean. This had lead to frustration in all parties involved. So, two to three times a day I have been going back to their rooms and pointing out what can be done and actually help them so they can maintain clean rooms. They love having me help, it helps them learn what to do, and it means their rooms have stayed pretty consistently clean.
I don't mind if they build elaborate forts or bring out all 6 million Lego's - it has just been difficult for them to get everything back to where it belongs. By staying on top of it we are all a little bit happier. (I wish they would help me keep my room clean!)

I had a few more things to share, like twin time and a rolling chair, but this post has gotten pretty long so I will end - it's going over the scheduled time- hehehe- Just wanted to share a little glimpse of what is making this momma so happy in the last few weeks. Yay for being intentional about what is going on. Who knows? In six months this may all change because it was terribly impractical of because I've resumed my lazy ways but for now it is working. A happy momma does mean a happier house. And this house, as you know, should always be full of all the fun in the world.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Buddies turn 6!

Here we are - at the end of the birthday whirlwind. I need to remember for the future how much I DO NOT feel like whipping up birthday cakes and party decorations by the end of August and be prepared. This year I am just thanking the Lord for cupcakes and our flock Ice Cream Social.

Whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the months the family flocks (we all started as one but have grown into 3!) meet for an ice cream social. My buddy RC calls it 5th Sundae (I have such clever friends). Last year "5th Sundae" wasn't quite developed yet but a 5th Sunday smores night was scheduled at our house and as it happened to be on my twins birthday it became their birthday party. Our social this year was the day before their birthday and guess who decided to try and pull it off again. Yep. Nominate me for lame mom of the year or cleverest woman on the block but I told the boys that everyone was meeting at the church for their birthday. :) And wouldn't you know it, some of those precious people brought gifts. It really felt like a party.

Then, on Monday night (their actual bday) we had two families over who also have new 6 year olds for pizza and cupcakes. I told the boys I was just too overloaded to do fancy cakes or themes so they both picked a character they would like to be turned into to top their cupcakes. Wilson chose Annakin Skywalker
and Tyson chose Leo from Little Einsteins (surprise surprise)
It was a quick and easy yet fun solution.
It was great to celebrate my boys with dear friends.
They got great gifts but were most excited to open the huge box from Nana and Papa (it was a basketball hoop)
I always call them my naughty boys but I love them to pieces. They are my precious little guys. They are best of friends, different as night and day, love their family, love first grade and are full of energy. I long for them to give their lives to Jesus. They are turning my hair gray and filling my days with laughs. I love them to pieces.