Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Do You...Keep Up With the Laundry?

How do you get the laundry done?   
submitted by Allyson

A family our size (2 adults, 5 kids under 10), generates a lot of laundry.  A husband in the grass cutting business brings home stinky, dusty laundry.  Three rough and tumble boys toss a lot of laundry into my hamper.  A girl with a puppy brings in a lot of (pink) muddy laundry.  A toddler who eats with her own fork and spoon contributes to the laundry, too.  It really never ends!  It is never done

Still, I rarely go to bed with laundry in my living room floor or even in my laundry basket.  How do I do it?

1) I like laundry.  It's relaxing and it's easy so I don't procrastinate.

2) It sounds silly, but I only wash what's dirtyIf you didn't spill something on it or sweat in it, put it away in your drawer when you take it off.  Pajamas only need to be washed once every 4-5 days.

3) I do 2-3 loads a day, every day.  I don't let it accumulate in the laundry room so it rarely gets overwhelming or out of hand.

4) I fold.  The kids put away.   Usually, I dump all the clean clothes on the living room floor.  It is motivation to get it folded right away because I don't want to step around piles.  I don't think well with clutter lying about. 


5) When I have an especially large amount of folding to do or I need the clothing put away quickly (like when we're expecting company), I pay the kids a penny for each item they put away as I fold.  They race to see how much money they can earn. 

How do you tackle the laundry?  Let us know in the comments.
If you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post,
share that in the comments, too, or send me an e-mail

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Spring Dress

So much for March coming in like a lion.  We've had so many 75  and 80 degree days already, but now that spring has officially sprung, it is time to continue the Dress Project

For those of you just tuning in...Alaine was given a pretty, polka-dot Old Navy sundress last year as a hand-me-down from an older cousin.  When summer turned into fall, I removed the hot pink fabric flower and replaced it with orange button and a dangling copper leaf.  She wore the sundress over a long sleeve shirt.  After Thanksgiving, I replaced the button and leaf with a red Christmas flower that had a silver bead center.  She wore the dress as a tunic top over jeans.  (photos here)

In January, I went for a softer, cozy look and added  icy blue pom-poms.  (photos here)

I was ready to add more bright, cheerful color back into the dress.  Inspired by these heart pins, I made a  felt flower pin that can be removed when laundering the dress (or removed and saved for later when spring moves into summer again). 

With the spring dress, we're ditching the jeans and corduroys and pairing it with a hot pink T-shirt and leggings instead. 

I'm having so much fun with the Dress Project that I think I'll re-do the dress every season until she just can't wear it anymore!  So...when does it need the next makeover? (May? June?)  Any ideas for the next design?  I'd love your opinions and links and pins

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Linking to.... 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not Enough Time

“There are not enough hours in the day,” I grumbled.

As I folded towels and sorted socks, I thought about my attitude.  When God created the world, he gave us 24 hours per day. In His infinite wisdom, He knew those 24 hours were all we needed to work and play and sleep.  Could it be that the problem wasn’t with the clock but with me? 

(Continue reading at Chasing Babies...Growing in Grace where I am today's guest poster.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sharing A Favorite Author

The Greatest Skating Race:
A World War II Story from the Netherlands

by Louise Borden
illustrated by Niki Daly

After four school years of reading our way through American history, we are bringing our study to a close this spring.  The closer we get to modern times, the more difficult it has been to find high-quality literature to represent the time period.  World War II is the exception.  There are so many choices that it is hard to narrow it down! 

One of our selections was this story by Louise Borden.  Written for children ages 9 and up (though my 5- and 7-year-olds were also captivated), it is part ambition, part danger, part suspense.  I read to the kids at the table while they were coloring in their Bible memory books.  They finished their pages before I reached the half-way point of the story book and I contemplated stopping and picking up the narrative the next day, but the story had already captured us. 

Yet, while we were caught up in the story of three young children trying to cross the Dutch/Belgian border without arousing the suspicions  of German soldiers, we were also soaking up a history lesson. There is the gently introduction to labor camps. There is a simple geography and pronunciation lesson.  (Gavin, 9, was especially interested in the map at the beginning of the book.)  The story discusses the origins of the Elfstedentocht, the speed skating race that is still held in the very coldest of the Netherland's winters.

I always say that the very best children's book not only interests the child but also the adult who is reading the story to them. 

Time and again, we have been drawn to Louise Borden's books because of their rich, fascinating stories.  Throughout our study of American history, we have read Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution, Good-Bye, Charles Lindbergh, and The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II, all by Borden.  It is always a successful day when we read a good book and no one realizes we've "done school."

What book has captured you or your children recently?  

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{Why not take a minute, too,  to visit Elise, originator of Children's Book Monday?}  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Do You...? {assorted questions}

This week I'd thought it would be fun to revisit a few topics I've covered over the past four years of blogging. 
Click on a question to be taken to the related post from the archives. 

If you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share it in the comments or send me an e-mail   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Different Side of Gardening

Yesterday, I talked about literal gardening.  Today, I turn philosophical.

Last week, my friend, Kim, shared this Robert Louis Stevenson quote as her Facebook status. 

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds you plant."

After a particularly defeating day-- one of those days where there were tears over spelling lessons and more complaining than cheerfulness-- the quote spoke to me.  I'm planning to display it on my kitchen chalkboard for awhile as a daily reminder that the seeds planted in little hearts must be tended slowly and carefully.

Later in the week, my mom shared an article on her Facebook page that reinforced the idea.  Perhaps you will be encouraged, too.

Lessons From Frog and Toad: A Growing Time  @ from Simply Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tri-Moms: Gardening With Kids

Today the Tri-Moms are discussing gardening...but I have a little confession.  I don't garden.  The two times I've tried to grow tomatoes, my experiment failed miserably.  One time the plant produced fruit, but the tomatoes rotted before they were large enough to pick.  The second time, the vine grew and grew and grew, yet never produced any fruit at all. 

So what does this very decidedly inside girl do when she discovers she does not have a green thumb?  She reads about it instead!  Both of these garden-y selections are fun, well-written stories, worth reading every spring!

  On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

The Gardenerby Sarah Stewart

But perhaps your kids want to get their hands dirty (and reading about it is not doing the trick).  Another idea to get children involved in gardening that does involve some dirt and sunshine (but does not involve the wholehearted gardening effort that I'm avoiding) is to let your children do some pot planting.  One year we planted daffodils and hyacinths with great success!  It was inexpensive and easy. (Read about our experience here.)   Another year we had a sunflower surprise.  (Read about that here.)

This year we are attempting to grow an elm tree from seeds, but no luck thus far. 

So, tell me.  Do you garden?  Am I the only slacker who takes vegetable hand-outs from friends and neighbors? 

As always...take a moment to visit my fellow Tri-Moms,
Allyson and Christy.
I'm pretty sure their thumbs are greener than mine.

Coming Soon:
April 3: Celebrating the Meaning of Easter
April 17: Spring Cleaning
May 1: Reflecting on the Past School Year
May 15: Summer Learning Plans

Monday, March 19, 2012

Books (in few words)

{Why not take a minute, too,  to visit Elise, originator of Children's Book Monday?}  


These are a few of the books that came home in our bag, hung out for awhile in our reading basket, and then reluctantly returned to their homes on the library shelf. 

Mary Smith by Andrea U'Ren

True. Historical. Funny.


Hanna's Cold Winter
by Trish Marx

(also) True.  (also) Historical.  Fascinating.


The Seven Silly Eaters
by Mary Ann Hoberman

Giggle-y.  Relate-able.


Henry and the Clubhouse  by Beverly Cleary

Boy.  Boy.  Boy.


What books have caught your attention this month?

*this post contains affiliate links

Friday, March 16, 2012

5 Ways to Make Little Girl Clothing Last Longer

1.  Turn a too-short dress into a shirt.


2.  Roll up too-short pants to make capris. 

3. Or add a pretty ribbon to the bottom of those too-short pants to make them longer. 

4. Refashion the out-of-season shirt or dress into something special to match the current season.   

5. When all else fails, if clothes are too faded or too short to be worn in public anymore, turn them into comfy pajamas. 

How do you extend the life of your kids' clothing? 
Here are a few other ideas:  

Linking to... The Welcome Home Linkup @ Raising Arrows

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Do You...Grocery Shop With Kids?

How do you take kids grocery shopping without losing your cool?

Last June I shared about my experience of  taking over the grocery shopping for our family after Brian had handled it for almost seven years.  All summer and into the fall, I ushered the kids into Walmart every other week and we shopped together.  Once Brian's grass-cutting schedule slowed down at the end of October, I began shopping in the early evening and bringing one or two kids along while the rest stayed home.  Throughout the winter when Brian was home all day, I shopped in the morning or early afternoon and let each of the three older kids take turns shopping with me.  (They viewed it as a privilege to come along.)  Now as spring draws near, I've been anticipating (and slightly dreading) the need to bring all the kids on my grocery shopping ventures again.  It's not that they're not well behaved (most of the time).  It's just that grocery shopping is  a long and tedious job that requires much of my concentration and bringing five little talkers along isn't easy.

There are a few things, though, that make my shopping trips run more smoothly.

1. Shop early in the morning.  I try to leave home as soon we can dress and eat breakfast.  I like to pull into the store parking lot, no later than nine o'clock.  The store is less busy in the morning and the aisles are clearer.

2. Review the expectations before we get out of the vehicle.   I think I know how my children will behave in the store... until we get in there and they are picking things up off of every shelf and getting their shoes caught under the cart wheels.  It helps to remind everyone (when we are still in the van) not to yell, argue, wander, whine, or ask for things. 

3. Bring a snack.  I don't care if we finished breakfast on our way out the door or if lunch is in an hour.  A little bag of snacks is a life-saver when the kids are getting restless and start picking on each other.  

4. Assign an older child to entertain the younger children during check-out.  It never fails!  The kids can be angels the whole way through the store until I'm loading groceries onto the counter, and then they want to whine and wiggle out of the cart.  The older kids are masters at coming up with silly songs that entertain both themselves and the little people they are trying to impress. 

Do you grocery shop with your kids?  How do make the job easier?     Let us know in the comments! 
If you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too.   

{Edited to add: After reading this post, Anna was inspired to write her own grocery shopping tips here.    They are worth a read.}

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's in the Bible?

Okay.  Let me be honest right up front here at the beginning.  This is a product review...and yes, I did receive it for free in exchange for my opinion on the product, but there is a reason I'm doing this review at all.  I'm totally in love with the concept and the vision behind this series. 

My kids are Veggie Tales fans.  I'm a Veggie Tales fan.  My nine-year-old doesn't want to admit it, but when he puts on a DVD for the toddlers, he usually hangs around to watch, too. Last June, I picked up a copy of (Veggie Tales's creator) Phil Vischer's book Me, Myself, and Bob at the library because it looked like a fun read, but was not prepared for the depth of his story.  It was truly the best book I read all summer so when I first heard about Phil's new company and new video series, I was intrigued. 

Phil says, "Even at the peak of 'veggie-mania' in the late 1990s, it was beginning to dawn on me that we were teaching Christian values, but not really teaching Christianity.  We were teaching key Bible stories, but not teaching the entire Bible." 

What's in the Bible? aims to promote Bible literacy in families and when series is complete, it will be a 13-DVD set, designed to take families from Genesis through Revelations, sharing God's story and illustrating His plan for redemption.  Phil says:

A few people have pointed out that we'd probably sell more DVDs if we started with Jesus and didn't spend all this time slogging through the Old Testament...But God didn't start his rescue plan with Jesus.  God's rescue plan starts with Abraham, and then slogs its way through the entire history or Israel.  Why?  Because if we don't see how impossible it was for Israel to live under the Law, we really don't understand why the incarnation was so necessary.

We sat down as a family to watch the first DVD, "In the Beginning"-- 2 half-hour episodes which delve into topics such as "What does testament mean?" "How many books are in the Bible?" "Why do we have free will? and "Did God write the Bible or did men?") There is a lot of humor interspersed throughout and there was lot of giggling from our group of watchers, but I was amazed at what they gleaned.  When the movie was over and Brian asked the questions that are found in the parent guide on the DVD insert, the kids were able to answer knowledgeably.  I'm not talking one-word answers.  I'm talking well-thought out, passionate answers. 

Then we moved on to a little fun table time.  Also included in the DVD insert was a coloring page which we were able to copy and pass out to each child. We hung them on the refrigerator when the night was over and when we had weekend guests I saw a couple of my children point to their pictures and say to their cousins, "This is what we learned in Bible study this week."  It really made an impression.

What's in the Bible? is not intended to replace reading the Bible.  It is intended to get families talking and hungry to dive into the Word of God.  As with everything we bring into our homes, we should examine it in light of the Bible.  "For [the Bereans] received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."  (Acts 17:11 NIV) 

You know how I know my children really and truly love this DVD series?  They asked to watch it again on their own, even when it wasn't family time...and when it was over, the kept the conversation going by asking me questions about what we believe as a family.  Then the quoted endless lines from the movie at the dinner table and in the car, taking turns playing the various characters.   I think that signifies a winner.

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