Friday, October 30, 2009

Week in Review

Hello Company Girls and good afternoon!

We had an early start this morning with Mr. Active waking up at 6 am ready to eat breakfast. He must be going through a growth spurt because he is constantly hungry! I gave him 1/2 pb sandwich to take back to his room while I finished my quiet time. Our new routines have helped out a lot with our early morning risers and reminding them when they can come for breakfast. Today was the first time that he has come out THAT early. I think he was excited to prepare his hair for "whacky hair day" at school. Hopefully I can post pictures later.

The biggest change this week has been establishing our evening routines. I love that God is faithful to answer our prayers and we can have confidence in His watchfulness over our lives. For about 4 months, little Ms. Ready to Go (19 months) has had her own way when it came to bedtime. Whenever I put her in the crib she would say "ssss" for potty. So I would take her out and she would sit, then get up & play and occasionally go. Finally I just let her sit until I finished with the boys and then addressed her issues. But it was getting later each night until it was 9:30 pm and my hubby and I said "this has got to change!" So we have implemented a much more structured evening time infused with grace :) and have seen an amazing difference. She is no longer screaming for 45 min. and goes down within 10 min. by 7:30! Hallelujah! I'm glad that even in the trivial things we serve a BIG God who cares for us!

The other exciting thing happened yesterday and you can read about here. I have not investigated whether the snake is still in the bucket this morning- we will see!

I hope you all have a great weekend. We don't celebrate Halloween but will be joining friends for fun & fellowship at Chuck E Cheese! I don't imagine it will be too busy :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twas the Night Before another Day of Raking Leaves!

The leaves continue falling on the ground below
our endless efforts raking- when will they go?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a little tan snake, all coiled up in fear.

I thought, “Oh, it’s dead!” poking it with a stick,
Then before I could blink it was gone oh so quick,
When my boys heard what happened, running they came,
with a bucket and shovel, a new pet to tame!

Searching the leaves we tossed them to the sky.
It was like trying to play a game of “I Spy.”
Not knowing where this little snake withdrew,
I suddenly saw him looking frightful again too!

One scoop of the shovel he was finally caught,
I ran for my camera to get a good shot.
Now the question remains do we put him back?
What if he is poisonous and soon would attack?

Lying under a leaf, in his bucket he will rest
We’ll call the Nature Center, they know what’s best!
As for me, I’ll think twice before jumping in leaves,
Or catching a snake for boys, just to appease!

This little incident happened this afternoon. It is the second snake we have seen around in less than a month after discovering a long, dead, skin in our garage! Hopefully we will find some remedy soon. Any suggestions? We will keep you posted as the saga continues!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Start Small, Think BIG!

Our new family theme: Start Small, Think Big

This week we are focusing on the little tasks that can become habits that fit into our daily routine.

I must admit, I always think Big and then try to accomplish the end goal all at once. The end result? An unfinished task and an overwhelmed and frustrated Mama!

So I have thought about some of my goals and have broken them down into smaller ones.

For example: I am trying to manage my home better and not be the only one who does everything for everyone. The latter may produce the results that I want but it is not helpful in equipping my kids or helping me focus on other things that interest me.

So my goal: to equip the kids & hubby to be responsible for various jobs around the home

Smaller goals: identifying specific areas that need attention
1. Entrance: keep shoes orderly, pick-up clutter, sort incoming mail
2. Dining Room- meal prep- silverware, plates, napkins, drinks, meal, sweep floor
3. Hallway Bathroom- wash around the toilet, wash down the sink, straigthen towels
4. Kitchen- dishes loaded & unloaded, sweep floor, mop floor
5. Living Room- pick up clutter
6. Boys Bedroom- clean up, maintaining individual routines

Now that I have narrowed down some main problem areas, I pick one area to focus on and assign jobs to various people. They own that job and I teach them if necessary how to do it. Then I follow through with the most important part: Inspection. They have to know I'm serious and that consequences will follow.

So for this week:
6. Boys Bedroom-
7:30 am- the boys understand that they need to be dressed w/bedroom picked-up for breakfast. If they do this everyday they get 1 minute added on to their 10 min. video game playing on Friday.
7:30 pm - the boys understand that they need to have brushed teeth, use potty & in pjs for a story before bed. If they do this everyday they get 10 minutes added on to their 30 min. video watching on Saturday.

Now if they are not ready or they get out of bed after saying goodnight (except maybe to use the potty), then the consequence is subtracting the appropriate amount to their overall time.

Bedtimes have been such a struggle since school started we are focusing on this one first in terms of applying consequences.

2. Dining Room- we are also giving each child a little job to help prepare dinner. There are no consequences at this point since we are teaching this idea (although I did share the story about a mom who served food directly on the table since the child responsible for plate setting was watching TV and the other kids quickly got his attention and made him do his job!) The kids loved this!

The tasks:
Ready to Go (almost 2) - puts her plastic plate and her brothers on the table
Eager to Help (four) - puts the napkins out
Mr. Active (six) - sets the table with silverware
Hubby- gets drinks & side dish
Me- all things food related

It has been so helpful just to think through this! I must admit it requires me to let go of the "control" factor that I like to depend on but it is SO freeing knowing that I can delegate and expect results. We will see how this week goes!

Do you have any helpful routines or tips on including the kids in getting the job done? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Routine Catch-up

Hello Company Girls and anyone else who has stopped by my blog. Two months in and I am really having fun with this blog even though I'm still trying to figure things out- like where do I enter the code for the Company Girl button to show up on my site?

Week in review: we are finally back on track after all the kids' colds. My oldest had some strange fever with terrible aches for 2 days, then it was gone, leaving behind a barking cough. Although this morning my hubby has a temp, aches and nausea (oh no!). I'm thankful that I was able to attend Bible study after missing it two weeks in a row. How refreshing to study God's word and be encouraged and spurred on by others!

My husband and I have been motivated this week to clear out the clutter, organize and work on our family routine. When school started for my oldest, I stuck an acronym to help with his morning routine on his door. It went: GUM & GO = Get up, Use potty, wash hands, brush teeth, Make bed, Get dressed, Out for breakfast. He followed it ok but it was new and a bit much to get used to all at once. So this week we dropped making the bed and brushing teeth before breakfast and explained that breakfast was served at 7:30 then he must brush teeth and be ready for the bus. Having a set time is the biggest help because that gives my morning structure. I know that my responsibilities must be completed before that time in order for breakfast to run smoothly.

My husband and I are also tackling our basement with its mountain of boxes that have accumulated over the years. It's amazing how we weigh ourselves down with stuff we don't even remember having! I love the recent challenge that Amy gave herself to Reduce Clutter in Your Home and it has inspired us to take a brutal look at all our stuff!

Now I'm going to relax with some fresh molasses cookies and a glass of cold milk (sorry, no coffee since it has been enabling me to stay up too late) and wait for my hubby to call so I can pick him up from work early- he still had to go in :( Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday Super Cleaning Fun

I came across a great idea to encourage kids to clean from organizer Sandra Felton. I combined two of her suggestions: using a timer and categorizing, we looked for all the white things we could pick up within 15 minutes. If the job was done before the buzzer, we would enjoy a white treat (ice cream) afterwards. Bonus: any other items needing to be picked up would earn sprinkles on top! We all pitched in and I was surprised just how many white things they found and the other items were picked up too!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fake it Home Baking

The crisp fall weather brings back memories of homemade apple pie and hot apple cider. I love how the aroma fills the air and makes the house feel warm and inviting. Now I usually don't have the luxury to bake apple pies everyday but I have found one quick and easy way to make it seem like I did.
Fill a pot halfway with water, add a cinnamon stick, 1 tbsp whole cloves, 2 tsp whole allspice and let simmer on the stove. You can also throw in orange peel or lemon peel for a bit of a twist!

Hall Closet Redo

Inspired and motivated by this week's challenge over at Home Sanctuary, I tackled my hall closet. It was turning into a junk drawer gone wild and needed some serious attention! Since my original gift center was simply a small drawer with wrapping paper somewhere else waiting to be found, I was excited to see Rachel's closet idea and that got me thinking. I cleaned everything out, covered the shelves, and put the gift center on the top shelf. I was amazed at what had found its way into this closet and SO glad to have organized it. I made a shelf for household tools, all the light bulbs and flashlights, and paper towels & toilet paper. I even have a shelf leftover!

The best thing, after having this completed, was handling the unexpected power outrage that we woke up to the next day. I was able to go into the closet, press the newly installed battery powered light I put on the wall and find my flashlight and extra lights we needed to function in the dark! I am still figuring out what to do with the extra long wrapping paper that didn't fit up on top. Any suggestions would be welcomed! Thanks Rachel and hello to any Company Girls that have stopped over to check out my blog!



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Nature Table

I've seen this idea on several blogs and have wanted to do something with my playroom table instead of collecting junk. So, I'm even offering my before and after pictures. Brace yourselves!

Before: a cluttered mess where items get dropped.

After: a collection of our Fall and Apple Themes

Books about Johnny Appleseed
and 10 Apples Up on Top
Cut & Paste Apple Tree
Fall tree using colored egg shells

Another fall collage using colored egg shells

Display of pumpkins from farm field trip

Items collected from nature walk, corn milled at Farm Day, books on the Harvest Moon

It was hard to get a full picture where you could visualize everything. The kids were very excited to see the transformation! Much nicer than the cluttered table. I'm hoping to change it regularly depending on the season- so check back later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Natural Girl

I love watching my girl grow and learn. I'm amazed at how naturally she cares for her babies (any stuffed animal). She wraps them, lays them down for naps, feeds them in her high chair,
teaches them to use the potty, gives them her bottle and takes them for rides on her ice-cream truck. This is certainly a girl thing and it's so fun! My boys NEVER did this. They were not even interested! Here are some pictures of her laying the baby down for a nap.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Foliage Collage

I found this great idea for our fall theme theme at Ten kids and a Dog. We had some white egg shells just ready to use so we put them in vinegar and food coloring in the morning. At lunch the boys and I set them out to dry and in the afternoon, when little Ready to Go was sleeping, we went to work. At first we did a leaf print but then I thought it would be perfect on a large tree. Here are the results.

Mr. Active's fall tree.

Eager to Help's tree with leaves
falling down.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Menu Plan Sunday

Colder weather = homemade soups! Here are the meals I'm going to try:

Breakfast: - Bacon, cheese & egg biscuit cups

Sunday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup, homemade bread
Monday: Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf, egg noodles, corn
Tuesday: Crock-pot Vietnemese Pho Soup w/ bean sprouts, basil and cilantro
Wed: Salmon Cakes, carrot sticks and Parmesan Couscous
Thursday: Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup, buttermilk biscuits

Friday: Homemade Pizza (kids-plain cheese, adults-spinach, fresh tomato, garlic)
Saturday: Apple Smoked Chicken Sauage with Zuchini, Red peppers and Orzo

Egg biscuits-makes a quick breakfast for kids and nice snack too. I used sausage and found that it burned when I cooked it in the oven. Next time I'll try it with bacon.

Baked Potato Soup- my picky eater's new favorite! The second time I made this I substituted a sweet potato for one white and it still tasted delicious.

Stuffed meatloaf- I also stuffed mine with spinach and the chopped onion. My husband would have preferred it served with mashed potatoes instead of egg noodles.

Crock-pot Vietnemese Pho Soup- I didn't have time to get it into the crock-pot but the stove worked fine and was faster. I used Chinese 5 spice since I didn't have any of the seasonings. The only problem was the broth was not clear but had all the spices floating in it. I also had to add some red pepper flakes to jazz it up a bit.

Rustic Tortellini Italian Soup- my picky eater's next new favorite. Very simple and hearty.
Apple, smoked chicken sauage- not a repeat

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I have been doing EC with my girl, "Ready to Go", beginning around 6 months. At first I put her on the potty occasionally and would make a "ssss" sound encouraging her to go. She did once and a while and we just continued from there. When she was 12 months I found the book Diaper Free Baby at the library, read it, and decided we would start doing this more seriously.

Once she was weaned around 13 months I discovered that the main reason she was waking up during the night was because she was wet and not because she wanted to be fed. I just assumed she was always hungry and never considered that she was only uncomfortable. So I began letting her use the potty when she woke at night and then put her right back to bed.

During the summer I let her run around in undies and so I could track her routine. I primarily wanted her to learn for herself when she had to go. The interesting trend I noticed was that if she had a poo she may start to pee a little, but then indicate right away and would then poo on the potty. I also paid close attention to her body movements and facial expressions. I could tell while she was sitting in the high chair and focused her attention on something, getting a bit flushed that she was about to go. I quickly took her and she was much happier eating after that!

One challenging thing that has been happening since around 16 months is her manipulating her signal for pee "ssss". She would use it to get down from the high chair or the more clever tactic of delaying going to bed. If I put her in her crib she would say "ssss" and I would take her out and sit her on the potty, read books or do a puzzle. After a while she may pass a drip or two and then say "all done!" I'd put her in the crib and the same thing would happen all over again.

At 19 months she is still doing this and it has become a very big obstacle in getting our two other boys in bed. She is really manipulating the situation. Two EC gals recommended having a strict bedtime routine where she uses the potty, reads 2 books, sings a song, brushes teeth and is offered potty again before getting dressed and put to bed. Lately, we have been doing this for her naps and bedtime routines. At first she resisted trying to pull the same act but after a few days she is going to bed closer to her normal time and with less fuss.

It's amazing to me how much little ones can control the situation if you let them. She was determined to go to bed when she felt like it. She would even go pee in her diaper while I was putting it on if she didn't want to go to bed. I hesistate putting her to sleep without one since she hasn't made it through the night dry and would probably wet herself just to avoid going to sleep.

So I'm excited that we seem to be making marked progress and I feel a lot less stress over the situation because I have a plan!