Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Do You...Keep the House Running While You Are Sick?


http://from-my-life.blogspot.com/search/label/How%20Do%20You...%3F

How do you keep things going (housework, kids, etc.) when Mom is sick?
  I have three kids and haven't figured it out yet.

submitted by Laura

Right after this question was submitted, I came down with a virus-- sore throat, fever, headache, stuffy nose.  How different it was than when I had babies and toddlers!  My kids are old enough now to step up and do many of the things that I usually do.  They can handle easy meals, load the dishwasher, switch over the laundry, and keep the house picked up. 

It was not long ago that when I got sick, the house seemingly shut down.  Sick days were a cause for me to panic because there was no one at home to take over my work load while Brian was at work.  If I didn't do it, no one did. The best I could do was to keep the kids close to me, gathering them around me on the couch or asking them to stay in the room where I could manage everyone without getting up. There was no easy solution and there is probably no easy solution for you either.  There isn't a magical way to figure out how to run the house when you are down and out. 

The thing I learned over the years, though, is that sick days are a very short season of life.  (Even my months-long bouts of morning sickness were short in the grand scheme of things.)  It is okay to relax the standards for awhile.  

It is okay if you make sandwiches for dinner or ask your husband to bring home take-out. It is okay if everyone stays in their pajamas all day.  It is okay if the kids watch more TV than you usually allow.  It is okay if the crumbs don't get swept.  During periods of sickness, I used to stress about what wasn't getting done and put undue pressure on myself.  It wasn't until I felt well again that I would realize that relaxing the standards for a day or two would have been better for everyone.
*****

My How Do You...? series is back for a limited time.  If you have an idea for a topic, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.




Monday, April 21, 2014

Photos On Easter


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L to R: Alaine (3), Owen (7), Maddie (9), Ben (5), and Gavin (11)

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Brian and me (photo by Owen)


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happy family






Friday, April 18, 2014


Via Dolorosa
written by Jack Anthony Mooring, Leeland Mooring, and Edmond Martin Cas

He traded His crown for a crown of thorns,
He picked up His cross and laid down His sword.
He stumbled down the road, bruised and beaten for me,
Jesus walked the way of grief, Hallelujah.




For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

*****

Looking for more music as you prepare your heart for Easter?

"Glorious Day" ~ posted in 2011
"The Wonderful Cross ~ posted in 2010




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Do You... Expose Your Kids to Great Ideas?


http://from-my-life.blogspot.com/p/how-do-you-index.html

alternately titled: Teaching Your Kids Without Telling Them It's School


So how do I expose my kids to a variety of topics that I don't plan to formally teach during our school day? I'm a sucker for books.  I am constantly picking up books at the library that pique my interest and bringing them home to peruse...and hope my children will want to peruse them, too.  Rather than assign them as required reading, I've started leaving a variety of books in a stack on the coffee table.  We spend a lot of time in our living room so the books are sure to be seen.



Sometimes I'll read part or all of a book to my kids in the evening as they're settling down for bed and  sometimes I simply leave the books there for my kids to discover on their own.

Here's a small sampling of the books that have rotated on and off of our coffee table this year:

{The following contains affiliate links.}

A Beatrix Potter Treasury
and Beatrix Potter(biography) by John Malam
100 Great Poems for Girlsedited by Celia Johnson
100 Great Poems for Boysedited by Leslie Pockell
Toilet: How It Worksby David Macaulay
The American Story: 100 True Tales from American Historyby Jennifer Armstrong
My Mommy And Me Story Bibleby Tracy Harrast
Top 10 Dogs for Kidsby Ann Graham Gaines
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everythingby Maira Kalman
Illustration School: Let's Draw Happy Peopleby Sachiko Umoto   
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verseby Marilyn Singer
13 Buildings Children Should Know
by Annette Roeder




The variety of subjects, reading levels, and styles introduces variety that might not be found in our school curriculum, plus providing snippets of various history, science, literature, or art topics may just spur a desire in one of my kids for additional independent learning.

During certain seasons of the year, I'll also place a stack of themed books out to help us celebrate.


*****

My How Do You...? series is back for a limited time.  If you have an idea for a topic, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  In the meantime, you can browse the archived index of past topics.




Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Eggs


Our family makes a yearly event of dyeing eggs for Easter.  Last year, we invited a group of friends to share in our tradition with us, but this year we worked on our project alone.  We scaled back acadmics to the very basics one day last week and devoted our school day to "art" instead.  

We began with shaving cream eggs. Aside from a few messy fingers, it was an easy variation to traditional dyeing.   We filled a 11x8 baking pan with shaving cream and 8-10 drops of food coloring. Then we used a toothpick to swirl (but not blend) the colors. 



After rolling the eggs through the rainbow mix, we set the eggs on an old towel to dry before wiping off the shaving cream to see the results.  (I didn't get an individual "after" photo, but you can see a few of the tie-dye eggs in the vase below. 



After dyeing a few shaving cream eggs, we moved on to egg dyeing with a twist.  The dyeing part was the same as usual (boiling water, a splash of vinegar, food coloring), but we used an Easter egg color chart to achieve specific colors with names like lime, cantaloupe, maize, and raspberry


The other difference this year was that we inserted the eggs in a whisk before dipping into the hot water.  It saved us from worrying about burned fingers or splashes of water all over the table from dropping the eggs into the cups. 



We chose to displaying our array of eggs in a vase on the kitchen table.  After using food dyes and shaving cream on our eggs and then leaving them out at room temperature, they are no good for eating, but buying 18 eggs is far less expensive than many craft supplies.




We ended our day with one last egg decorating project: Minion eggs.  Recreating these little creatures from Despicable Me was super easy.  All we needed were a few cheap plastic Easter eggs, electrical tape, googly eyes, and a permanent marker.  The kids created their Minions in secret so that each one could be different.  Then they did a big reveal to each other when they were done.



Not up for boiling water, food dyes, or googly eyes? My kids have also had fun coloring these free Easter egg printables this year.


What about you?  Have you done an Easter crafting?





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Do You...Revive an Old Blog Series?


http://from-my-life.blogspot.com/p/how-do-you-index.html

Between February 2012 and March 2013, I regularly wrote "How Do You...?"as a weekly series for my blog. I answered questions such as How do you grocery shop with kids? How do you keep track of library books?, How do you keep a toddler in bed?, and How do you keep the bathroom clean?


I let the series fizzle because I ran out of ideas and reader questions dwindled, but I'd love to revive the series on a short-term basis!  This go-round, I'm setting aside Wednesdays to answer your questions.

To make this work, I need your input!  What do you want to know?  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  I can't wait to hear from you.

 





Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming to a Theater Near You




This is part 5 of my Based on the Book series. First I talked about 4 books that I thought were superior to their movie counterparts.  The following week it was 2 movies that I liked better than the original books.  I also shared a few choices that were too close to call  and wrote a book review.

During February and March, I read three books that are are being released as movies in the theater this year.  I came to very different conclusions about each one!
 
Books I've Read in Anticipation of Movies Coming Out This Year
{All book and movie titles are Amazon affiliate links.}



I had heard great things about The Fault in Our Starsby John Green.  I'm not one to jump on a bandwagon.  In fact, if a book or movie gets a lot of hype, the rebel in me resists reading or watching it. I eventually broke down, though, when I read a synopsis of the plot.

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and the book follows their emotional friendship and the events of their lives over the portion of a year.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story.  It was authentic without being sappy.  However, it had a moderate amount of language (maybe a PG-13 rating) and many of the characters' beliefs about death and what happens when we die were in opposition to how I believe. 

Now I know why the book got rave reviews, but I had enough reservations that I can't give it my  wholehearted recommendation.


I was excited to begin Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trailby Cheryl Strayed, but I almost quit before the second chapter. I probably should have.

I was fascinated by the story of a woman who set off alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (the more rugged West Coast sister to the Appalachian Trail).  It was interesting to read of the people she met and how she survived. I was amazed at how little she ate and the tremendous load she carried, and I was sickly fascinated by the descriptions of her bruises, blisters, and missing toenails.

Now for the downside. The language was horrible (definitely beyond a PG-13 rating). The author's lifestyle choices were morally lacking. The need for a Savior was obvious. I could only recommend this book with a long list of warnings.



Now I can talk about my favorite.  The girls and I read A Bear Called Paddingtonby Michael Bond together.  I had never read Paddington as a child and had no idea what to expect. For some reason, I thought it might be dull,  but I adored it!  I loved the writing style.  I loved the story.  I loved the illustrations. My girls did, too. 

The book follows the story of Paddington, a Peruvian bear who ends up at a train station in England.  It follows his story as the Browns bring him home with them and he settles into life with the family. It is witty and funny but heartwarming, too. 

No warnings or hesitations needed on this one.  It's a gem!


Have you read either of these books?  What did you think? 

Next up in the series I'll talk about some book-movie combos that are worth mentioning but don't fit into any category! 





Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Chore System That Works



When I posted my goal update last week, I had 2 different individuals ask for more details on how we do chores and allowance at our house. While I'm not sure if our system will be useful to any other family, I am more than happy to share what works for us.

I want to preface this by saying that we felt a need to make a change because I was always nagging and reminding.  "Did you remember to feed the cats?" "Have you folded and put away your pajamas?"  "Why haven't you brushed your teeth?!  We need to start school in ten minutes!"

Brian and I wanted to create a chores system that had the kids taking more initiative for their own work.



What we found to be most effective was to give each child a list of  requirements (based on their age and ability) and also give them a time deadline.  For example, Owen (7) is responsible to make his bed, get dressed, brush his teeth, help straighten the boys' room, and spot clean the bathroom every morning.  He can do this in any order he wants (and he can even do other leisure things as well) as long as his responsibilities are done by 9 am when we start school.

Other morning chores which were assigned to different children  include tidying and sweeping the laundry room (which also serves as an entrance to our house), walking and feeding the dog, feeding the cats, and unloading the dishwasher. Everything must be completed by 9 am (10 am on the weekends). 

Giving the initiative to complete their own work over to my children leaves me free to handle my own responsibilities or read a book to Alaine or take a shower because I know that the work will be completed and I'm not needed as a nagging reminder.

To ensure that each child knows what is expected of them, we have posted small charts in inconspicuous places around the house.  For example, on the inside of the bathroom cabinet is the bathroom checklist.  Owen rarely refers to it now, but it's there if he needs it. It is also there if another child needs to be a substitute.  When Owen was sick with a virus last month, Maddie was able to step in and clean the bathroom for him by following the checklist.





If a child has not completed their responsibilities by the set time, if they repeatedly do a poor job, or if they complain about what they are given to do,  a certain percentage is taken from their allowance.  It's only had to happen twice because my kids take that dock in pay very seriously!

We made the decision years ago to pay our kids an allowance starting when they turn four.  While we believe that everyone must contribute to the family and that working together is a part of living together, we also believe that teaching children to handle money at a young age is a valuable skill.  Allowance is not a freebie in our house.  It is something that must be earned.



At dinner time, we have a separate set of chores.   Because the two oldest (11 and 9) take care of the dog in the afternoon before dinner, they are excused from setting the table.  Owen (7) and Ben (5) do that together, each with specific tasks. Clearing the table is on rotation-- Gavin on Mondays, Maddie on Tuesdays, etc.  Table clearing used to be a group effort, but it seemed like one child always got stuck with the bulk of the work.  It wasn't intentional, but one kid often lingered at the table.  Another needed to use the bathroom after every meal. Another talked while working.  And before we knew it, the table was 75% cleared by one child.  By rotating days, the table gets cleared regardless of the worker's style. 

One last note: Last summer, we instituted a little School of Home Skills into our weekly routine. It was one of the best things we could have done for training our kids in valuable life skills. It might be time for a  refresher course this summer.




Monday, March 31, 2014

a Monday Morning Mommy Moment


This Mama wants to show off a little. If you are not my children's grandmother or other close relative, you may wish to click away (because there is no other point of this post other than to do a little bragging).

~wink~

My three oldest kids are entering a local art competition.  The directions are simple.  Draw, paint, or doodle a migratory bird that can be seen in our area. 

Owen (7) knew immediately he wanted to draw a goose.  He settled at the dining room table and got to work, finishing in 20 minutes-- not because he was in a hurry but because he knew exactly what he wanted to do.  That is so indicative of his personality.



Maddie (9) was not so decisive.  She considered many, many different varieties of birds.  Then she doodled ten or fifteen on a scrap piece of paper.  "To practice," she said.  When she finally settled on the bald eagle, she asked if we could check out some books at the library so she could study an array of photographs before she decided how she wanted her eagle to pose. 


Gavin decided on a sand piper easily enough, but finishing his drawing took multiple hours over several days.  He is precise and particular and a bit of a perfectionist.  He was terrified that he would need to erase something and leave marks on his page.





The artwork went into the mail on Thursday. The deadline is mid-April and winners are chosen in May.





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