Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Plugging away...

{the path to organizational BLISS}
I started working on organizing our school room today, but didn't make as much progress as I'd have liked to. I hope if I can get more kid participation tomorrow I can get it done and functional for me!! That would be awesome. Its so strange...I am discovering that I don't work well when my life isn't orderly and organized. However, the attribute of organization doesn't come naturally to me. I am trying to retrain myself to BE an organized person. If I could just start thinking like an organized person I know I could BE organized and live an organized life. Its a struggle. I think its especially hard because you can't follow someone
else's plan for organization...its such an individual thing. I feel like the book Organizing From The Inside Out did a great job of teaching organizational principles that I am trying to apply in my life and create my own recipe for being organized. In a month or so hopefully I'll be well on my way!! So far the few spaces I've organized have resulted in a huge boost in my effectiveness.

{Structure time...KEY to my success}
I feel like I've been getting better and better at structuring my kid's 'school' time. We do school time for 3 or 4 hours in the morning and its been going great. However, I still have my occasional freak out sessions when I start to worry that my kids are behind or I start to feel like I don't know what the heck I should be exposing them to. For instance last week I started having a melt down worrying that my kids weren't learning enough. Finally after a lot of prayer and soul searching a thought kept coming to my mind. The thought was...

You can try to cram lots of knowledge into them and force them to learn things they aren't interested in or not really ready to understand. They might even remember some of it in a few years. BUT for what purpose? Its not about the amount of knowledge they acquire by a certain age...its about who they BECOME as a result of that knowledge!!
Its all about who they are BECOMING while they are DOING their education.

{Inspire NOT Require}
Right now for me its all about exposing my kids to lots of great things so they can get inspired and have a desire to learn these things because they want to NOT because they are forced to. With my oldest only 9 we do a lot of educational games and TONS of reading during our three hour structured school time. We start with devotional, which usually lasts for about 15-20 minutes and then go right into kid's school.
I choose a subject that interests me and that I want my kids to learn about (this month its all about outer space). We spend on average about 30-45 minutes depending on how interested the kids are before moving onto open 'school' time. This week the kids have just been reading their brains out during open time. We went to the library on Monday so they have lots of books they are excited to read. Megan is totally into Junie B Jones books and Jarom is into Pillage and The 13th Reality...he goes between the two depending on his mood. If my kids seem like they can't figure out what they want to do and start roaming the house looking lost I try to help them find something they are interested in and I volunteer to engage with them on that activity if possible.

From 1-3 is quiet time...and its my time to study what I am into. Sometimes I use the time for other things like preparing dinner or doing the laundry or whatever else needs to get done. The kids can either play with toys or color or something, but can't watch a DVD, play computer, Wii, or DS until after 4. Between 4-5 I let the kids do electronic forms of entertainment, however, I'd prefer they only did TV and electronic stuff on Saturday. I may change this rule in the future. Its such a balancing act.

{Tomorrow's Goals}
Organize: Finish organizing the school room!!!
Spiritual: Personal Scripture Study before the kids get up!! Finish Devotional with a prayer.
Kids: BE present with the kids during the entire 3 hours of education. FOCUS all my energy and attention on them and their needs
Personal: Find 2 hours of personal study time.
Spouse: Do something thoughtful for my hubby.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Life on Venus...

During the month of April for our 'kid school' time during the morning we are focusing on Space. I've always been fascinated with our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Its so amazing to me how complicated and well orchestrated it all is. Anyway...we started Space last week and one day the kids picked out the book on Venus. So we sat down and began to read all about this strange sister planet of ours. It was fascinating. Sometimes I swear I learn more than my kids learn. For one things its almost the same size as earth and has many similar components found on Earth...oh yes except oxygen. The strangest thing we found out about Venus is that its day is longer than its year. Yes you heard me right.

{All the things I could get done in a single Venus Day}
If we lived on Venus, a day would be very strange. Venus rotates the opposite direction of the Earth. So sunrises would be in the west and sunsets in the east. But the most interesting thing to me was that a day on Venus lasts 243 Earth days and a year on Venus is only 225 Earth days. From sunrise to 'noon' it takes three months. According to the Venusian calendar, WWII only ended 56 days ago!

That got me thinking of all the things I could cram into a day if I lived on Venus. I could really use all those extra hours...I swear right now the days are going by way to fast. I never find the time to fit everything I want or need to do. I guess since I'm not relocating to Venus I better start prioritizing and cutting the 'good' things out so I can make time for the 'best' or most important things in life.

The mess during the 'organizing' process is a killer. I just hate to see the space get worse and worse before it FINALLY gets better. AHHHH!!!

[The Kitchen]

On Friday I really cracked the whip and got my kitchen mostly done. I was amazed when I realized was my biggest problem in keeping an organized kitchen was a big bag of garbage that I collected from all my 'neat' drawers and cupboards, and TWO boxes of random non-kitchen items that had somehow found their way into my kitchen.

After about 4 or 5 hours of steady cleaning, de-junking, thinking, and organizing I finally figured out where I wanted everything so my kitchen 'flowed' and what I DIDN'T want in the kitchen. It was such a huge relief when I was done. Now my kitchen works, and its clean (at least it stayed clean for the picture). WOO-HOO!! Now I've got to tackle the 'school' room where I dumped all the non-kitchen items. That is my organizational project for Tuesday.


I LOVED conference this year, and thanks to our 'sugar them up' reward system our two oldest kids listened to 2 1/2 sessions quietly and without complaining. It was awesome. We had 8 bowls filled with different candy, and each bowl was labeled with a different 'key' word. When they heard the word they could cash in for a piece of candy from the bowl. What we didn't plan on was them eventually getting so much candy that they'd lose the motivation to listen for the key words. Oh well it still worked really really well!!! Maybe next year we can figure out how to get the kids excited about cashing in for veggies and fruit instead of candy. Wouldn't that be cool?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

On the move again...

{from stuck to slowly moving}
I think that is a good way of describing my week. On Monday I was STUCK!! Thank goodness the week got better. One of my huge issues on Monday was how unorganized I was which was effecting my ability to function as a mom, homeschooling mentor, cook, nurturer, etc...

I've actually known I needed to fix my unorganized home for a few weeks now, and last Monday I even checked out a book recommended my good friend Verena called Organizing from the Inside Out. I was about 40 pages into the book on Monday during the 'break down.' By Tuesday I was emotionally with it enough to start reading the book again, and today I finished!! WOO-HOO, and tackled my first problem area. The 'Kitchen Desk.' It has been a magnet for clutter...paper, books, mail, keys, anything brought in from the car, gum, CDs, whatever. It drove me crazy, not to mention I was always loosing my important mail and papers within its messy realm. So today I tackled it with a new set of skills and objectives thanks to this awesome book. I was able to get it done in a few hours and I feel so much better. I still have a few more finishing touches to put on the space, like getting a filing system figured out and assigning a home to a few more drawers, but it looks and feels so much better.


The book suggested making your 'Household Information Center' pretty. So I added a plant and a cute picture thingy (which we already had). I also moved my calendar from my laundry room, where we never used it to the 'info center' so we could remember birthdays and scheduled events. So fun, So visible, So MUCH BETTER!!

**I also made a home for my keys and purse. I had these hooks in our other house and I loved having a place to hang my purse and keys. It feels so great to have a hook they can call home again!! Its in my laundry room (which is right by the back door) so its out of the way, but where I can always find them.

{Motivation works}

Last week I came to a situation with my kids where I could choose one of two paths. My kids were getting a little out of hand and it was time for a behavioral change to take place. In a rare moment enlightenment I decided to choose the path of positive motivation vs. negative discipline. I told the kids to hold on I had a surprise for them. I rushed into my kitchen and started racking my brain to find/create something I could use as a reward system. This three tier holder thingy caught my attention and I figured I could put something in the bottom section and allow the kids to move them to the center section when they did something positive and the kids could earn a reward. I couldn't find anything to use as chips so I ran to where we store our games and found Rummy Cube. In a rush I dumped all the tiles out into the bottom section ran back to the kids and explained the 'new system.' They were thrilled. We decided once all tiles were in the middle section we'd go to Cold Stone as a family, and then they could work on moving all the tiles to the top section which would result in a family trip to the ZOO. It really turned the day around and I am proud to report that yesterday we went to Cold Stone, and today Megan said, "I can't wait until we get to go to the ZOO." Positive motivation does work...even if you use Rummy Cube tiles and a random kitchen thingy.

{Burn baby burn}

This is a totally random story that I want to document for posterity. Last weekend Scott went on a camp out with the scouts in our ward. On their drive back the bed of the truck he was traveling in started on fire thanks to them not putting their camp fire out enough. They thought they had really soaked the fire, and since it was a carry out policy had loaded the dead fire into the back of the truck. However, once they started gaining speed the coals must have started up again. Before they knew it 4 foot flames were leaping out of the truck bed. A lot of their stuff was burned up including Scott's sleeping bag, foam pad, and pillow. As they were trying to put out the flames the other guy who was driving grabbed a shovel that was in the bed of the truck to give to Scott so Scott could shovel dirt on the fire. The fiberglass handle had burned and when he grabbed it the fiberglass began to burn his hand so he threw the shovel instantly and it hit Scott in the ear. Isn't that strange?! The other two guys both burned themselves, but Scott got a random really strange cut inside his ear.