Friday, September 30, 2011

7 Quick Takes September 30 2011

--- 1 ---

I had the opportunity to chaperone my youngest daughter on her first "date" this past week.  A certain young man, to whom she has been "betrothed" since she was 2, won a gift card for Olive Garden and asked her to go with him to use it.  Of course us moms got to go along, too.  It was a fun time and a great meal.


--- 2 ---

We've been moving along rather nicely in our school work, which is a great improvement over the last half of last year.  The biggest change seems to be in math.  The middle two kids are now doing Life of Fred Fractions and, other than their test today, are enjoying it much more than the math they were doing last year.  It seems that if math goes well, the whole day goes a lot better.  I pray it lasts :)

--- 3 ---

I'm currently working on converting an organizing workshop that I had put together into a workbook called "A Plan for Joy in the Home:  A Workbook on Organizing Your Day".  Right now the book is in the layout stage.  I'm getting so excited about seeing it in its finished format.  I've seen some mockups and it is so awesome to see something you've done in an "official" looking format.  I'll keep y'all updated on the status as we move along.

--- 4 ---

I enjoy a shameless plug once in awhile, so if you don't mind, I'd like to plug Andrew Schmiedicke, the wonderful man who edited my book.  You might recognize him better by the name that occurs in his email address :) (yes, he's Regina's husband).  He was very helpful and gave me some great advice, so if you are looking for an editor, feel free to email him!

--- 5 ---

Which reminds me of a quote I read this week that Andrew and Regina shared at this year's Fairy Tale Novels Fan Get-together.  They were giving a talk to the young people present about marriage.  Regina said that marriage is a mutual crucifixion.  At that point, Andrew gave Regina a big hug and said, "Embrace your cross daily".  I love it!

--- 6 ---

Ms 17 yo and Ms 15 yo are involved in an apologetic club this year.  The kids are researching and writing up 4 to 6 minute speeches on various Catholic teachings.  The month of September focused on the Pope and the major topics that are in dispute between Protestants and Catholics.  They spend the week preparing their topic and then they present them at the meetings.  It has been a great experience so far.  Religion and Speech credit all in one "class".  I love multi-tasking :)

--- 7 ---

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for putting together this new 7QT template.  She's right, even though there isn't much to it, it did make the whole post go a lot faster!  Click on the link below to join the fun.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A B See - O is for...

Omelet!  Baby Omelet to be exact, which is why I took this picture to begin with.  The kids were thrilled with their "kid sized" omelets!

 Come join the fun!  Click on the image above.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Touch of Fall

Now that Fall is officially here, some of us thought it might be nice to add that fall touch to the house.  Last week I had won a very cool basket full of kitchen goodies.  We were all so excited to see new measuring spoons (you can actually read the size markings on them :) and cups, the fall colored towels and wash cloths, the new wooden spoons and a great fall cook book.  

The basket that it all came in is very cute, but I didn't quite know what to do with it.  Since it had a pretty, fall placemat lining it, we got inspired and decided to put some fall-like decorations in it and put it on the hall tree in our entry hall (right next to the ugly white board, you know, to kind of dress it up :)

Our plan is to change the contents of the basket to match the seasons of both the year and the church.  For now, our fall items will grace the entry way until it is time for Advent.

We then moved over to the kitchen table, which is another area we like to decorate.  Since we have been blessed with a relic of St. Therese and her feast day is next Saturday, we decided to give her this place of honor until then.  After that, maybe a Marian statue with a rosary will take her place.

Fall is one of my more favorite seasons.  I like the coolness that enters the air and I love to watch the trees change color.  Hopefully we will have a very colorful one this year.  While I don't mind the evenings getting shorter, I don't enjoy the mornings being so dark!  I hope that you are enjoying this change in season, too.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Ugly but Frustration Alleviating White Board

Does this sound familiar?

~ I tell my son that he cannot play Wii unless he cleans up his room.  I say this in the morning.  About 3:00 I tell him that, yes, he can play Wii without ever checking his room because....I FORGOT!

~ My husband tells me that the girls should cut the grass the next day.  When he arrives home the next day he asks why the grass hasn't been cut.  Ummm....I FORGOT!

~ My children are not allowed to go on the computer until all their chores for the day are done.  I notice that one of my daughters has been on the computer for the past hour and then I realize that I never checked that all her chores had been done.  Heck, I don't even remember what all her chores were!

I know that my brain is overloaded.  I know that I am trying to keep too much information sorted in an organized fashion up there.  What with all of the things that we try to accomplish on a daily basis, not to mention just the sheer amount of chaos created by seven - nine people being in the house, and the fact that I am getting older and have even more accumulated memories that I try to house up there, it is no wonder that I can't remember much.

This is where I was at a few weeks ago.  Frustrated because I was always forgetting important things.  Frustrated because my children tend to take advantage of my lack of memory.  Frustrated because I was feeling completely overwhelmed by my duties.  Something had to change.  Thank God for my mother.

My mother is my sounding board.  She is the one who will listen to me go on about all of my woes.  I know that if I call her and need to talk about something, she will listen and offer whatever suggestions she can.  I am truly blessed to have her!  During this time, then, I called and spouted my frustrations to her.  We spent a few phone calls like that, actually, and by the end of the week we came up with this:

An ugly white board that is sitting in my entry way because I have nowhere else to put it!  But, boy, does it do the job I need it to do.  We started by putting all the kid's names on the board and listing all of the things that they need to do on a daily basis.  Things like:

Morning offering
make bed
pick up their rooms
brush their hair and teeth (yes, I still have to remind some of them :)
drink their Reliv shakes
do their meal chores
School work

As soon as each task is completed they put a check mark next to it.  Each evening I add extra things they have to do the next day.  Things like:

cut the grass
cook dinner
fold laundry

If there is something that either needs to be done by multiple children or is not assigned to a particular person, I might just write that in a blank space so that I remember it needs to be done.

Now when they ask me if they can watch a movie, go on the computer, go to their club or play Wii, all I have to do is walk over to the white board and see what their status is.  Sometimes I take their word that the items have actually been done, while other times I will double check, or I will occasionally just take a tour of the house to see if everything is up to date.

We've been doing this for about a month now and it has been wonderful.  There is no more guessing and no more frustration for anyone!  It is either done, or it isn't and I just have to look at the board to tell.  I don't have to remember all those tiny but important things every day.

I've tried variations of this before.  Things like writing a list every day, writing items down on my calendar or sticky notes, but the fact that I had to write these things down every day got too tedious and I would forget about it :)  The white board, even though it is unattractive and cumbersome, really makes a big difference.  I don't know if you struggle with any of this, but in case you do, I thought I would offer this as a possible solution to the problem.  It might be just the thing you need to alleviate a little stress from your daily life!


Monday, September 19, 2011

A View of Our Day

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A B See - N is for...

Nail!  The nail that held Our Lord to the cross out of Love for all of us!  I have been stuck on "N" for so long and one day *poof* nail popped into my head.  I knew I had a couple of good Jesus nail pictures, so here is one of them.

If you'd like to join, just click on the picture below! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blue Knights and their tents

This past weekend was the annual Blue Knights Camp-out that we host at our house.  It is such a fun event for the dads and their sons.

Our local Blue Knights group meets once a month and each year they study a different facet of the church.  One year it was the virtues, another year the Beatitudes in addition to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

In addition to their study, they take some time for physical exercise and fun by playing dodge ball, basketball and such.  During another part of the evening they also study something academic.  Last year it was physics in the form of different ways to move objects such as rockets and cars and such.

I love having this opportunity available to my husband and sons.  The boys, who are usually being carted around to girl-type activities, look forward to this night every month.  

The highlight of their year, though, is this camp out.   

They start around 3:00 on a Saturday, put up their tents and break into groups:  dads in one group and boys in another.  The boys run amok while the dads socialize and prepare dinner.  The boys are reigned in for dinner, after which they begin to run amok again until rosary time.  Then they break out the campfire and roast the obligatory marshmallows.   Sometime close to the next day, the dads realize it is getting late and call the boys in to sleep.  By sun-up the next morning, the boys are up and running while breakfast gets prepared.  Everything is cleaned up and dads and boys are on their way to church by 9:00 in the morning.  A great time has been had by all!

This year, Mr 6 yo was so exhausted he made it until about 5:00 on Sunday when he promptly passed out on the couch, woke up long enough to make it to bed and then slept until 7:00 this morning.  Exhausted boys:  truly the mark of a good time!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

God Be With Us!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let the School Year Begin!

We began school today, and can I admit that I wasn't the driving force behind that?  I didn't want to start school until next week after we dropped Ms 19 yo off at college and then we would all start on the same day.  It was actually the four youngest students who were begging me to start today.  Can you believe they all wanted to start because they were enthused about starting math???  This year they would all be doing Life of Fred math, and at least for now, they are all very excited about it.

How could I ignore all of that enthusiasm???  I decided I better take it while I can get it, so yesterday I sat down with their planners and wrote down their first week.  Ms 12 yo and Mr 11 yo got started by 8:00 and were essentially done with the work I had planned by 9:30.  Ms 8 yo and Mr 6 yo were as equally enthusiastic, however it took them a bit longer since they had to do all of their subjects with me.

If I can just interject a thought about schedules for a moment...I realized again today that a schedule doesn't just keep me on track and on task, it helps in one other area.  As I explained to Ms 12 yo and Mr 11 yo, I have a schedule set out so that I can help everyone that needs my help.  That's great that they got all their work done in record time, however, because they were working ahead of schedule, they expected me to be available to them.  While it would be nice if I could teach them all different subjects at once, I can't, so they kept interrupting my work with the youngest two.  I tried to explain this to them and I hope that as we progress we will all fall into a nice schedule that works for everyone.

It was good to see how fast they could get through the seat work that I had planned for them since it gives me hope that we will indeed have ample time for our geography and unit study!  I'm planning out a unit study based on the book about Fr. Marquette to go along with our study of the geography of the United States.  I hope to have that done and available soon :)

This week begins some of our clubs and it is also the Sandwich Fair (the biggest county fair in the State of Illinois, btw).  Many of us have projects entered so it is always fun to go and see if any of us won ribbons.

Hope your school year is off to a good start!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Plan For Joy in the Home

Helping people organize their day is one of my favorite things to do.  That's why I just had to join Lacy at Catholic Icing today.  In fact, I like it so much that I currently have a workbook in process called "A Plan for Joy in the Home" to help people work through the various components of their day and get them more organized.

I got started with scheduling my day a number of years ago when I had too many kids that I was trying to homeschool at once.  My schedules have evolved over those years to the point where now I can pretty much make one up in my head without too much trouble.  I get into trouble, however, when I think that I am following that schedule in my head and I realize that I really am not following any schedule and just trying to wing it.  When we wing it, we don't get as much done in a day and life just seems more stressful.

So, over these years I have come to realize how important it is to know what your priorities are for your days and then to organize them into a workable schedule.  I've recently read a few blog posts about how schedules can be restrictive and cumbersome.  For example, "what if I don't want to fold the laundry at 3:00?"  I look at my schedule as a guideline for my day.  I realize ahead of time that most days won't go exactly as I had planned, but my schedule gives me that lifeline to grab back onto when I feel as if everything is out of control.

Let's say we are all set to start school and someone comes to the door and ends up staying for an hour.  Well, there goes my plan for the morning.  At that point I have a few options:

1.  I can get all worked up about it and throw off the rest of my day.


2.  I can look to my schedule and decide one of two things:  I will pick up where I left off and just make up the stuff that we missed the next day or I can go back to where we were interrupted and skip something later on in the day.

In this way I've just used my schedule as the tool it was meant to be.  If there is a day that I have something scheduled that I don't feel like doing (and it isn't crucial that I do it :) then by all means I skip it.  No one says that just because it is in a certain time slot that you are forced by pain of death to do it that day.  HOWEVER, don't make a schedule and then just ignore everything you put on it!  That would be pointless.

To that end, I have a basic schedule that I follow all the time, while only portions of it change depending on the time of year.  Here is my skeleton:

* Get up before the children and say my prayers!!  This is the absolute cornerstone of my day - a non-negotiable if you will.  Without this quiet time of prayer, the rest of my day definitely does not go well!

* Everyone up, breakfast, morning chores, Mass

* Back home to do school work - if school is in session

* Lunch

* Afternoon school work, free time, my time to do phone calls and paperwork, errands, etc.

* Dinner prep, dinner, clean up

* Free time, rosary, bed for kids

* Time with hubby, prayers, bed for me :)

If you are looking for help with these areas of your life, might I suggest that you click on the facebook link on my side bar so that you can "like" my website page.  This way you will find out when my book "A Plan for Joy in the Home" will be available to purchase.  This plan has helped many moms already to lead a more organized and joyful homeschooling life, so I  hope you'll join us!