Stay-at-Home Mom

Stay-at-Home Mom Style – Spring

Sweatshirt: Iowa State

Pants: these are so old I have no ide

Shoes: KSwiss from COLLEGE era y’all!

I’m not one to quit on a garment just because it has a little age to it.

This is the perfect outfit in which to spend all day in the rain and in the garage doing an amazing DIY patio update and painting all the things.

Tunic: Zulily

Necklaces : Target and Noonday

Velvet leggings:Target

Boots: Target

This is the perfect outfit in which to premiere as a greeter and usher. I’m a terrific greeter but my ushing was rather clumsy. It’s also perfect in which to take your daughters and friends out to eat and endure the snow and freezing April temperatures, take the girls to A Wrinkle In Time, and write all evening while watching Murder on the Orient Express, while the oldests wrap your hair around 89 straws.

Dress: Goodwill in DC!

leggings: Ross

Shoes: Younkers

Pup: Snuggles and Cuddles

This is the perfect outfit in which to start off optimistic that it’s going to be as lovely as the day before but quickly realize that you’re going to freeze, and supervise the cleaning of the patio and deck and balance bank accounts (well, try to) and babysit three more kids and hope they don’t die and have a bonfire and go out with friends and drink and talk and talk and talk.

Top: Old Navy via Goodwill

pants: PINK via Goodwill

Shoes: Converse via Ross

This is the perfect outfit to wear to babysit and end up with 10 kids including a baby who you get to wear and whose head you get to smell and kiss and know that you know that you know you are done with babies but you are so happy you get to love on friendbabies and to make an actual lunch that almost every body eats, and to buy new chairs at Theisen’s which don’t fit in the car and be late for picking up your Wal-mart grocery order and they have to page people to unlock it but you don’t even care because you just want your Kix!

dress: Garage Sale

Hairbow: chosen and loaned by five year old

practical shoes: Danskos

This is the perfect outfit to wear for Classical Conversations Costume Day and just generally enjoy yourself immensely and not even get irritated when your daughter loses her shoe in the creek and your son wades in over his ankles to retrieve it, or when the two year old refuses to come to the van and you have to chase her across the park but you catch her because you wear the practical shoes.

Sweater: New York and Company via Goodwill

Puffer Vest: Goodwill

pants: Sam’s Club

Boots: Goodwill

This is the perfect outfit in which to stalk and photograph ducks and coots aaaaaaand do some other stuff.

Top: New York and Company cia Goodwill

Puffer Vest: Goodwill

Blanket Scarf: Amazon

Joggers: Zulily

Converse: Ross

This is the perfect outfit in which to get a lot of house work done and school work done and be the best Monday-er in the history of Monday, and also get carried away at the library book sale and also get a manicure and ALSO even make a proper farm wife supper.

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DIY Patio Deck Upgrades update fix (2)

Spring DIY Patio Update for under $100

This post is sponsored by Theisen’s. I would never recommend a company I don’t believe in.

It’s April 15. Our spring has never arrived and I’m not feeling optimistic it’s coming any time soon. Even to the point of considering spring cleaning, (or possibly just changing all the sheets), I’ll do anything to get out of the never ending winter doldrums. It’s  winter but never Christmas.

As a gift to myself, I’ve made a long, long list of spring spruce ups, and the patio and deck area is at the top of upgrades I want to do. Some of the updates I want to do just aren’t in the budget this year, but I host a lot of patio parties and wanted to upgrade as much as possible as cheaply as possible.

The kids and I raked and picked up and burned all the leaves and sticks  which had accumulated all year. I was impressed how much that alone helped! Brielle, who is highly motivated since the first patio party will be for her cast party for the Davenport Junior Theater play she’s in, scrubbed off the tables and chairs.  If it ever warms up and stops raining, The Handsome Husband will power wash the deck.

All our patio furniture is second hand and our plastic Adirondack style chairs were all broken and cracked so I headed to Theisen’s where they had them on sale! I was delighted that they even had my colors! I had painted the deck furniture (which my great aunt had given me 15 years ago) a few years back, and it seriously needed updating. I also picked up some Rust-Oleum Spray Paint which included a primer because I’m all about streamlining.  While I was there, I noticed some hanging plants who were optimistically trying to bloom despite this freezing Iowa April.  I bought a couple to eventually put on my patio swing. I want to paint it too, but I knew I wouldn’t have time this weekend.

I also wanted to have all of my cushions match. Some came with the furniture, a few we had bought, and some others my sweet mother-in-law surprised me with. I wondered if I could paint them too. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one to think of this idea. I read a few tutorials (this was one of them )when I thought of painting the cushions,decided it would work, and just went for it.  A few $3 cans of paint are way cheaper than new cushions!

Before painting in the foreground, after one coat in the back

I spent all day Saturday in the garage, painting furniture and the cushions. We couldn’t find all of the cushions, and they had gotten rained on , and it was too cold to properly dry according to the can, and I’m not a very patient person nor do I like to follow directions to the letter, but I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

Other than the fact that after I was through, and I was complaining because my pincer grasp wouldn’t work, the tendons in my forearms were completely exhausted and sore, and I couldn’t even cut my own meat, my husband then informed me we had a handy dandy trigger handle I could have used. (like this one)

Voila! 

 

My new snapdragons wonder what in the world is happening with this beautiful April snow.

 

I love having new grey cushions and like new furniture!

 

A new conversational area
The view of the deck
A fresh socializing area near the fire pit, which is flanked by our new Adirondack chairs.
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Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

6:00 Wake up to alarm. Try to sneak out of bedwithout disturbing beautiful wife or two year old who’s snoozing between us. Am largely unsuccessful. Sneaking is not my forté. Grab a cup of coffee to down while putting on my coveralls. It’s 15 degrees on the seventh of April and the cow herd is calving. Dangerous conditions for newborns. The plan is to haul the last month’s accumulation of manure out of the cattle yards and use it to fertilize the fields while the ground is still frozen. It’s a week long job at least with nothing going wrong.

6:30 Check the cows. Discover a half frozen just born baby calf. Haul him in the calf sled to under the barn so I can get him nursing. His mama is not cooperative and keeps trying to charge me. Stupid cow.

7:30 Still having trouble getting her in the head gate. I’m sick of this cow trying to kill me, when all I’m doing is trying to save her baby. Take a break and go check the rest of the herd. Discover two more babies, just born while I was under the barn with the first ridiculous cow.

Drag them in to under the barn as well. Their mamas follow docilely like they’re supposed to. Get the calves all in the calf warmer—a tiny A frame shed with a heater.

Head up to the house for some frozen colostrum. I’m going to have to tube feed them all.

Put 9 year old in charge of warming up colostrum, the first highly nutritious milk. We always milk cows who have lost a baby or have extra colostrum, to keep on hand. Without those precious first few nursings of colostrum, the calves won’t live no matter what you do. It’s a miracle that newborn human babies who’ve never nursed can survive, as no animal will!

A Day in the Life of a Farmer

8:30 Go back out to barn to check on the situation and see that two of them are starting to stand and be halfway normal. The kids all want to come out and watch, so I let them peer through the window so they won’t disturb the mamas. Milk the two cooperative cows and tube feed their calves with their own mama’s colostrum since they can’t nurse yet.

9:30 Go back up to the house, get the warmed colostrum, tube feed the first calf. I don’t think he’ll make it. This is even more discouraging as just yesterday, I had twins (highly unusual for Gelbvieh cows), both born back feet first, both born dead. They’re supposed to be born front feet first. Besides feeling badly for the animal, we’re losing big money every time we lose a calf, and this is definitely not the year to lose any money on anything.

After feeding the calves, I headed up the breakfast operations while my wife was working out. Cadrian, the nine year old can make popovers on his own, but he still needs a little guidance and a lot of reminders.

10:30 Finally start hauling manure while it’s still frozen. I go into the cattle yards with the tractor, load the manure and the straw we use as bedding material into the loader bucket and dump it into the manure spreader. The ground needs to be frozen while I take it out to the field so I don’t tear up the ground with ruts, which then causes compaction, because I want to plant into it soon.

11:30 Take a break from hauling manure when my best friend comes over to get hay for his goat. We shoot the breeze for a while.

By this time, Jessica is gone to write all day at a local farmer owned coffee shop. I go back up to the house to check on the kids and get them to start lunch. They make frozen vegetables and macaroni and cheese.

12:30 The ground is starting to thaw, so I finally start chores. This involves feeding all the cattle in the cattle yards a special mixture of silage, hay and nutrients, and taking bales of hay out to the cattle in the pastures. I mow and bale hay all summer long so out cattle can be grass fed all winter, and I sell some hay to local horse owners. I keep a close eye on the worst off calf.

1:30 The kids are bounding around outside since it’s warmed up a bit. They want to help and be in the way and see everything. Elivette manages to get some milk to feed the half frozen, now thawed, babies!

A couple more calves are born, in the sunshine, which even though it’s still record lows,  makes a big difference so they were fine. After I got the new ones all ear tagged, I poured hot water over that first calf for quite a while, trying to get him warmed up internally.

2:30 Our pet cow Lolly had her calf! She is the smartest cow we have. She had the calf at the warmest part of the day, in the calf shed I just erected yesterday. Really it was probably dumb luck, but I like to credit it to her intelligence.

day in the life of a farmer
My wife with all her sick headache accouterments.

3:30 Jessica has gotten home but she has a sick headache and can’t go to the party with the family.

I get the kids around and we head off to Aviana’s friend’s and Challenge A director’s home for tacos and a sing-a-long. On the way, I meet up with Brielle’s friend’s dad, because her friend Esther has stayed the night and needs to be returned to her family.

4:30 The kids have a great time while I chat with some of our friends. I have to supervise our kids pretty closely because they’re still so young and impulsive. The family who live here with their two teenagers lead a completely different life than us with our six rambunctious rascals ages 2-13.

Our nine year old especially needs to have some quality friends who are boys. We seem to have a lot of friends with girls. He and the host’s 14 year old son love to wrestle and roughhouse.

7:30 It’s impossible for me to round up six kids. You have to start an hour before you’re ready to leave, and then when you finally find them all, and get them pointed in the right direction, someone wants to chat some more and they all disperse again.

Bedtime is the best time of day for this farmer!

8:00 Get teeth brushed and pajamas on. By lying down with her, I get the two year old to sleep. I love snuggling her and helping her fall asleep. Often I fall asleep with her for a little while, and show her how it’s done. This farmer teaches thegreatest life lessons: Bedtime is the best time of day!

9:00 I head back outside and get the calves nursing for the first time. That’s a huge relief! The first one died. I check the cows again and see another new calf born, which brings our total to 7 for the 7th! That’s almost 10% of our herd calving on one day. I have to go out to the field to bring back the tractor I forgot out there because I drove the tractor pulling the manure spreader back and then got busy with the cows. If I had a fit bit I’m sure it would show that I walked 20 miles today.

10:00 Sit down for a rest while Jessica quizzes me about my day for this blog post. I like that she’s paying attention to me, but I’m almost too tired to think! Snuggling with the puppy in the comfy chair is putting me to sleep.

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Stay-at-Home Mom

Outfits of the Week: Stay-at-Home Mom Style

What a crazy week! I wore more than these few outfits, I just didn’t get a lot of pictures taken. I didn’t even get a photo of my Easter style.  Although, I have been known to wear the same thing for several days in a row (#SAHMlife), so I guess my wearing the same outfit for an entire week is not out of the realm of possibility.

Base Top: Goodwill

Asymmetrical Jacket: StitchFix

Leggings: Aldi

Boots: Goodwill

This is the perfect outfit to wear to a local coffee shop and work on your blog and then for some reason get a blistering headache and then go home and straight to bed and feel better when you wake up and then get a weird, incredibly painful attack of heartburn which lasted almost all night (although I wasn’t wearing the boots by that point and my hair was pretty tangled).

Top: Ross

Jeans: Four Seasons

Boots: Goodwill

This is the perfect outfit to wear for all the homeschooling and laundry doing and slip on the kitchen floor and nearly kill yourself a few times because of the ridiculous slick bottomed boots, and do a quick tutorial for a friend, settle sibling spats (all day, every day) and stop by and pick up the purse you left at a restaurant on date night, and do a Director Proof for a Memory Master for Classical Conversations, hold an Informational Meeting and be told “I just LOVE stylish people!! (and have the internal reaction of WHAT?! ME?! and look around because she must be talking about someone else, and go to your friend-daughters’ plays, and out for raspberry lemon ice.

Jacket: My MIL’s closet

Sweater: Goodwill

Necklace: Noonday

Pants: Sam’s Club

Boots: Younkers

This is the perfect outfit in which to completely go off the cuff while leading an orchestra unit for your Classical Conversations community because there must have been some sort of miscommunication with the people you had lined up, to talk with many many people all day long and get asked repetitively for play dates and sleepovers and field many complaints about why do we have so many friends who only have girls and cancel your chiropractor appointment which you really need because you can’t figure out how to make it work with the things the kids have going on and realize even though you kind of resent it, you actually are putting other people first, which isn’t easy, but nevertheless, you’re proud of yourself.

Shirt: Goodwill (I cut small holes and laced up a ribbon, and sewed it at the bottom)

Basic leggings

Shoes: Ross

This is the perfect outfit in which to assist with all the music (piano lessons for two kids, orchestra, cello for one), spend some one on one time with my sweet Baby A, try a new coffee shop with your Handsome Husband, and go out to eat for delicious food you didn’t have to cook.

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Homeschool and Public School-Our Journey

Homeschool and Public School—Our Journey

homeschool public school
Cadrian boards the school bus.

My  homeschooled kids had never really been in a  public school until a few years ago. It started because we thought my oldest son needed some speech therapy. We called our elementary school, left messages for the speech pathologist and she took care of getting him evaluated and setting up an IEP for him, so he could receive services. Then I was taking him to speech once a week. At that point we didn’t really consider him dual enrolled.

Our oldest, in the way of oldest children, broke the trail for us. She wanted to take violin lessons, and after a year, we thought it would be good to have her play with other students too, so we inquired about having her take orchestra at the junior high. The process was pretty simple, and suddenly I had a child enrolled in school.

About halfway through that year, I learned about a program called Book Share. It’s a website that has nearly every book imaginable read out loud, and it’s completely free. In order to be a part of it, you have to be officially diagnosed with some sort of disability or impairment. While my son had been taking private tutoring for  what we knew to his dyslexia for several months, he did not have a diagnosis. I contacted the school to find out whether he could get one through them, so we wouldn’t have to pay for a psychological evaluation. It was easy enough to set up the testing times with the special ed director and meet with the school members for him to get an IEP. I still wasn’t planning on him receiving special ed services when I walked into that meeting, but when I met the teacher and principal, I almost immediately changed my mind. Our elementary school staff could not be more dedicated or helpful. I knew he would thrive in a one on one setting with the dynamic special ed teacher,  and could only  benefit from the school’s approach dovetailing perfectly with the Barton Method tutoring he already was doing.

I love it when I’m so right.

homeschool public school
Brielle works on her homeschool math

Then this year my second son’s reading was just not taking off like I felt it should be. I spoke with Cadrian’s teacher about it, and after being tested, we discovered he also has some disabilities, but not as profound as my older boy. It worked perfectly for him to get on the bus with his brother, head to local public school,  and the special ed teacher  works with them individually, during the same time frame. Denton has also started private tutoring.

As of this January, I have half of my children dual enrolled. The school has been an absolute dream to work with. I’m delighted with the experience and maturation my students are achieving through their “real” public school involvement. My kids also realize how lucky they are to be able to quickly get their homeschool and chores done early in the day so they can move on to their preferred pursuits later on.

My junior high daughter has benefited by accessing opportunities and extracurriculars the school offers. She is a participant in National History Day, and wrote a killer 2500 word  paper,  which, after achieving a top score at the regional level,  she will be taking to the state competition. She has qualified for honor orchestras and been able to participate in field trips of her choice, like a visit to the Hoover Museum. She also has learned how grateful she is for her homeschooled friends who possess high caliber character.

Our journey into the public school has been nothing short of fabulous. I’m curious about your experiences in your district. Tell me about them in the comments!

public school homeschool
Little Sister can’t wait for Big Sis to get home from school!
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How to Tell Whether Children Live Here

Pull up to my house and you’ll immediately know children live here.

The bikes, scooters, and roller skates littering the driveway might be your first clue. It also could be the 25 foot high tree house, complete with homemade rock climbing wall and fireman’s pole. Possibly it’s the hole in the yard under the tire swing in the maple which will inform you of the tiny inhabitants here. The glitter in the flowerbeds might tip you off. The hammock in the apple trees doesn’t necessarily scream “Children live here!”, but the humongous pile of cut off branches nee fort/climbing apparatus/hideout could.

Children make huge messes

A half buried pan, leaf covered glove, long abandoned boot hiding under the pussy willow near the door perhaps show that children live here. Cushions removed from the deck swing and piled under the fireman’s pole, jump ropes tied in the crab apple, muddy-ish, wet clothes hanging from the clothesline, sidewalk chalk art empty abandoned bubble bottles all make known those small and ever present humans we call our own. Doubtless the swing set and playhouse are dead giveaways, but the homemade wooden raft leaning on the windmill and the pile of mateless boots nearby may lead you in the right direction.

Come up to the front door, and…careful! Don’t trip on the many cottage cheese containers filled with sand and carefully lined up on the step and forgotten. Just step over the dolls and Cinderella slippers and Nerf guns lying abandoned on the stoop. Ring the bell, and listen for the chaos of “I’ll get it!” and thundering, laughing footsteps as the little people race to answer your call. Open the door and push aside the puppy toys, shoes, and jackets. Ignore the pile of gloves and scarves, and instead turn your glance upon the smiling shining small ones who as delighted to see you as they would be Santa.

Listen to their exuberant greetings, and  lean in for the snippets of what’s important to them. They’re all talking at once, so you have to pay close attention. This one telling you about her loose tooth, that one describing how the puppy scratched her finger, the other one wanting to show the puzzle he’s been working on, while another one takes your hand in his small one to acquaint you with the rotating car track he invented.

You’ll likely see crumbs on the floor, spiderwebs in the doorways, toys and stray socks strewn among the books and crayons cluttering the floor and table. That’s how it is here. Ignore the (possibly intentional) chemistry experiment decorating the counter.  Walk past the table littered with books, writing apparatus, likely a few attempts at paper airplanes and K’Nex motors, stickers and bits of torn up paper (always bits of torn up paper!)  Accept the cup of coffee from me, settle yourself down on the couch (feel free to move that sweater and that toothbrush) and allow my children nestle into you as you open the book they’ve brought you. Revel in their solid warmth, and pudgy bodies.

Bend down and breathe in the scent of their sweet, likely sticky, faces, and notice how they smell like sunshine and snow. Touch their dandelion puff hair. Cup their petal soft cheeks in your hand as you listen. Join them in their smallness, and at the same time, in their larger than life vitality. Look into their trusting eyes and listen, while they talk and talk and talk.

Marvel at their innocence, their guilelessness. Wonder at the depth of their acceptance and love for you. Admire their cleverness and take part in their view of the world. Be inquisitive about everything they want to share with you. Be fascinated by their perspectives. Have no agenda.

Ignore the childish detritus which is so abundantly apparent when you approach my home. Pay attention to the children.

Look. Listen. Children live here.

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Moms Run The World

We moms are like electricity.

I was thinking about this today as I chopped vegetables, intending to put out a veggie tray for the kids to have a healthy snack to graze on every time they passed through the kitchen.  We run everything. Husbands and kids expect us to do all the thinking for them. And for whatever reason, we do.

The other day I was agonizingly finishing up math with my most reluctant learner.  It had been a productive morning, but as is the norm with small people, there was plenty of arguing with each other and push back  to me and interruptions and a lost reading book we just had yesterday, which we still haven’t found, and character training and loudness and touching. I was really ready for a break. The Farmer came in for lunch.  He strode into where we were working,  griping about all the problems he had encountered outside with machinery. It added weight to my inner tension, but I couldn’t really respond, because if I let my attention wander, the math-doer would absolutely follow suit. There were leftovers. He’d be fine.

Suddenly, a small crash and loud faux swearing filled the air, The Farmer emphatically wondering who had left the egg on the stove top and why doesn’t anyone ever clean up around here?! I couldn’t bear it a moment longer and leapt to my feet emphatically answering. Everything else in the kitchen was clean, and I, already at my limit, was furious that he had an accident and was trying to blame everyone else. He didn’t notice that the rest of the room was tidy, just the egg now splattered all over the floor.

Thinking back over the altercation, I realized that I am like the power in the house. We just expect the light switch to turn the lights on when we flip it; we expect the fridge to be cold when we open it; we expect the button to start the microwave when we push it. Our families expect the same thing of us. We only really notice the electricity when the fuse is blown or the storm knocks out the power. We function so well and do our jobs so well as administrators of our homes, that we practically are invisible.

I live in a home built in 1850 and added onto in 1902. The electric in our house is cobbled together, added on in dribs and drabs over the years.  As we have undertaken remodeling projects, we make sure to do the electricity right, and up to code. Even though it worked before, I know that it’s better to completely redo the wiring and connections to make sure our home is as safe as possible.  Despite the fact that I know it’s necessary, and even want to do it, I’ve always railed against this  very expensive, invisible part of our remodeling process.

I’m a little like that with self care too. I want to eat right, want to spend uninterrupted time with God, want to exercise, want to take moments out of the day to read my book or to make my planner pretty. I don’t often make it happen like I ought to.  I know it’s necessary for my mental health and to be fully functional. I know I need to do it to be the best mom I can be.

It’s important to have the electricity of the home be at full capacity.  We moms are the sometimes invisible, usually unappreciated energy sources of our homes. Do what you need to to be at maximum power.

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blog homeschool day in the life

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

When my oldest was approaching school age and when she was in early elementary, I was obsessed with looking up the schedules of homeschooling families. I did find a book which had a compilation of different families’ days and whose name I unfortunately can’t remember, and here and there I would find a blog post, but there wasn’t much out there at the time. I scoured the internet  and library looking for the “Day in the Life” information for several reasons.d.
Seeking new ideas is something I do on a regular basis. It’s so helpful to see how other people do it, and see what you can incorporate into your own life.
It’s fascinating! I am seriously curious about what goes on in other people’s homes. I love getting glimpses into the extraordinary ordinary.
I like knowing I’m not alone. It’s refreshing that I’m not the only one wanting to tear my hair out by two o’clock.
Because it’s so helpful for me, I asked several of my homeschool friends about their daily schedule. I’m writing a series of The Day in the Life of a Homeschooler posts. If you’re a homeschooler, and would like to be featured, I’d love to talk to you about that!
I would love to introduce to you my friend Sarah. We jokingly refer to each other as Sister Wife because last year we went to Vegas with our husbands and babies, but while her husband was in meetings all day, we figured we looked like sisterwives hanging out with Kevin. Her kiddos are 8, 6, 4, and 2, and she’s also a farmer’s wife.

6:30 am – Mommy and Daddy get up, get dressed, and drink coffee while checking Facebook and email and the weather reports. This is our most peaceful time of day. Daddy usually heads out to work on the farm before the kids get up. I get the farm’s bookkeeping and bill paying done during this quiet time. I try to log off the computer for the day when the kids get up, and NOT go back to check email or Facebook again until the next morning. We don’t own smart phones because we don’t want that constant distraction.

8:00 am – Kids start waking up. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, and brushing teeth -times 4- takes forever and sometimes there are tears.

 9:00 am – If we are going somewhere (Grandma’s house on Tuesdays because she keeps the kids for a couple hours while I run errands alone, homeschool co-op on Wednesdays, horse riding lessons some Thursdays, library on Fridays) we head out. Often the 8 and 6 year olds have worksheets to complete in the car because we live a long way from everything and it keeps them from making too much racket during the drive. Math and spelling questions are shouted from the backseat of the Suburban up to me (over the noise of the 2 and 4 year olds in the middle row) and I shout the answers back. If we aren’t going anywhere, I attempt to get the 2 and 4 year olds engaged in an activity and then work on lessons with the 6 and 8 year olds.
Homeschool science slime
6 year old Joanna demonstrates making slime

We don’t cover every subject every day. They alternate between math and writing six mornings per week, 52 weeks a year. Science and art are covered at co-op for part of the year. Once a week we read a chapter from our history book, and throughout the week we read the recommended supplemental readings that go with the chapter.

9:30 am – Second breakfast
10:00 am – The big kids are finished with lessons and everybody has free time. For me,that means laundry, dishes, food preparation, gardening, and sometimes relaxing with my own reading material. The kids go outside when weather permits. Otherwise they entertain themselves in the house and that gets very messy. I am often interrupted by crying children who are having a toy squabble or other disagreement, or who have obtained boo-boos and need kisses, or who have invented something or drawn something they are eager to show me. Whenever perpetual disagreements or boredom strike, I give the kids chores to do.
11:00 am – Elevensies (Kidding… sort of… It’s unbelievable how much time kids spend eating!)

Joanna and 8 year old Katrina check out their specimens.
12:00 pm – Lunch. We usually eat leftovers from last night’s supper, or sandwiches or microwaved chicken nuggets. I do not cook a meal in the middle of the day. I basically hate cooking and do it as little as possible. The kids are expected to do as much as they can by themselves. I pay a quarter for emptying the dishwasher or sweeping the floor.
1:00 pm – Nap time. We never, ever mess with nap time. I am extremely strict about this part of the schedule. We are always home before 1:00. The 2 year old goes first. I remind the other kids that it’s time to be quiet and take her up to her room. After a few stories and some gagas (nursing), she’s down. Then it’s the 4 year old’s turn. He gets a few stories alone in his room and goes down.
Katrina loves to illustrate the stories she writes.
1:45 pm – Reading time. With the two youngest asleep, the two big girls and I sit together on the couch and read. I read a few stories to them, and they each read aloud to me from a book at their reading level. This is the extent of our reading “curriculum.” Occasionally, on staying home days, we do reading time before lunch so that I can have more free time
in the afternoon.
2:30 pm – This is MY time, and it is sacred to me. I send the big girls off to do whateverthey want (usually they play outside and  explore the far reaches of the farm) and I work on things that I care about. This often includes a home improvement project (my husband and I are rather proud DIY’ers and we are always renovating something). It takes me two hours a week to mow our yard. I squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise every day, usually during nap time but sometimes in the morning. Sometimes the big girls and I will get out a messy art or science project that we can’t do when the littles are under foot and work on that together. Sometimes we help Daddy fix broken machines or work cattle.
4:30 pm – Sacred nap time is over. The kids’ favorite show, Wild Kratts, is on, and all the kids sit and eat apples (the ONLY food they are allowed to have in the living room) while they watch. Sometimes this distraction allows me to keep working on whatever I started during nap time. Sometimes I get started on supper. Sometimes I watch with them.
Wild learning at its best.
5:30 pm – In the dead of winter, we usually spend a good deal of our evenings in front of the TV. The rest of the year, it is shut off after an hour and everybody goes back to playing and working outside. At the present time, we have no regularly scheduled
evening activities. In the past, the kids have done sports and dance classes that meet on weeknights, and I imagine at some point we’ll resume some of those things. Right now nobody is begging for those sorts of things so we’re not doing them.
We regularly enjoy local parks and playgrounds when we’re at loose ends. Often we meet
friends for a few hours either in the morning or evening (never at naptime!). We take nature hikes and the 8 year old tries to fish. The rest of the evening includes supper at some point, but we rarely sit down and eat together as a family of six. Usually Daddy works late (9:00 or later in the spring, summer and fall) and eats when he comes home (and often at least one kid eats with him). In the winter he sometimes comes in earlier and we might eat together. The kids enjoy a variety of electronic games, card games, and board games, and we play them together or separately. The kids need showers a few times a week and that can be a lot of work.
Ideally, all the toys get picked up and put away before bedtime, but sometimes I don’t  have the energy to make them do it.

9:30 pm – Bedtime. I put the 2 year old to bed because she still needs her gagas, then I take a shower and hit the hay. Daddy has always done bedtime duty for kids who are weaned. He reads them stories and tucks them in. It’s sacred time to him because during busy times of year he hardly sees them at any other time. (They all love tractor and combine rides with Daddy and we do that as often as possible, but it’s not always possible.) By 10:00, the whole family is asleep, resting up for another big day ahead.

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I love my local moms blog

I thought I’d share my latest post with you.

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studioafter4

KonMari Life

I read The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up in January, and have watched several YouTube videos about the KonMari Method, and minimalism in general. I have been incentivized to change my life!

I haven’t done her program to the letter exactly how she describes, but what I have done has been fantastic!

I’ve done most of the kids’ clothes, mine and Kevin’s clothes, all the books in the entire house, a lot of our homeschool supplies, and some of the kitchen. As a mom of many, it would be impossible to do it exactly as she lays out in the book, and knock out all of the “odd and ends” for example, in one day. I try to tackle one category of things or a room every other Friday.

I had the goal of fashioning a creative environment to use as an office. I want to blog more. I want a space of my own. I also am taking on a job within our Classical Conversations community which requires more responsibility and record keeping, so I needed a spot for that.

I’m lucky enough to have a studio already. Sort of a glorified closet, it’s a small room on the south side of the upstairs. I love the natural light in here. I used to scrapbook in here, and I still sew and make cards. My needs have changed considerably, and all of the things I’ve been keeping have inched their way farther and farther from the wall until there wasn’t much room at all. And, with all the clutter, it does not invite creativity.

After a hard day’s work, I ended up with this: 

Much better, but it was still sort of cluttery, especially on top of my drawers, and with the sunlight I loved so much, I couldn’t see my computer screen due to the glare.
I made a few purchases to decorate it a bit, AND cleaned out our entire storage room to make room for Kevin’s steel guitar you see in front of the window. 
Now I truly have a Fortress of Serenity. I have a room I love to be in and a room that is once again useful and welcoming.

If you need motivation to change your life, I highly recommend The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up!
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