Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mom Sanity-Part 2 (Our Diligence/Chore Charts)

We've been incorporating the tips from 'Managers Of Their Homes' recently and if you missed my first post about the book you should check it out here, because my whole world has changes since I first read this book and now I'd like to follow up with some of the key things we've implemented in the Garcia household.

#1: Chore/Diligence Chart
#2: Dishes Routine

Now, transitioning to and building up to our schedule took a bit of work but its been slow and steady progress and I'm happy to be slowly reaping some of the fruit to my labor.

My first thing to work on was our chore chart, which we are now calling our "diligence chart". God calls us to be diligent in all we do, so I like to think that doing our work is not a chore but an opportunity to work diligently.

I started by making Kara her own diligence chart (age 4) and spent a few days training slowly how to do her chores. She can mostly do them by herself but I wanted to spend the time to make sure she was doing them correctly.

There are a few she does as needed but on her chart are the ones she has to complete on a daily basis.  I require her to complete her morning chores before she can have breakfast or play. Since she only has a few it works out well. Then after breakfast I usually have her do a simple task, like wash off her table or help me with my chores a bit (more chances to start training her to add chores to her chart eventually).

Below is my own diligence chart.  The way it gets broken down is by Morning and Evening on the top portion of the sheet and then the Monthly/Quarterly work that needs done on the bottom portion.

During the Morning and Evening on the left side it lists my diligence work to get done everyday. This includes things like: unload the washer, clean kitchen, start laundry, lunch prep, etc. On these things I have included a BB, DB, or AB which stands for Before Breakfast, During Breakfast, or After Breakfast. Then along with my daily chores on the right hand side I include a weekly schedule of diligence work to be done on specific days.  So, for example Monday morning I along with my everyday work need to vacuum upstairs.  Then in the evening on Monday I need to do one of my monthly items listed at the bottom.

I left extra room on the bottom for more monthly, quarterly and yearly chores as I think of them. Once I feel my list is completed I will laminate the list and then check off the monthly stuff so I know what is completed. 

This chart has helped me keep up with and maintain the things that use to overwhelm me. I just have a designated time to do it and it doesn't take as long as what it would if I let it slide for weeks, like in the past.  Plus, a big part of our conviction is having a house centered around hospitality and I've found when I keep up with my diligence work I feel like I can use our house to bless so many more people.  If my house is in constant disarray the last thing I want to do is invite a new couple from church over.

The second thing that made a HUGE impact in our house was my dishes routine. I've always heard that its good to get dishes done before you go to bed but that didn't ever work for me because either I had a whole sink full of caked dishes that needed soaking, or that didn't even all fit in the washer.  Or it's even worse when I went to load the dirty ones only to find out I need to unload the clean ones!  And at 11:30pm at night it's just not worth my time.

In going through this book (Managers Of Their Homes) and reevaluating our dishes as a family, I realized that we are a 3/4 dishes family. Which means they sit in the dishwasher one day and then the next day it gets full midday and I send them through sometime later. But it just caused a pile up because by the time the dishes were done I already had a sink ready to load up. So it's just a cascade effect.

Implementing the dishes routine: setting a specific time to load and unload the dishwasher. 

Since we are a 3/4 dishes family I implemented Ryan to be the one to send the load through at night before bed. The big thing here is that he sends it through whether its full or not! This may sound a bit wasteful but to keep my sanity and household running smoothly I will pay the extra $1. Then I am the designated unloaded at breakfast time, since I just snack at breakfast anyways. This prevents a pile up for the rest of the day. Larger families may need to have a designated time to load/unload twice during the day. 

Doing this has honestly brought such relief to me. I get so frustrated and overwhelmed if my kitchen is in disarray. With the dishes being taken care of I don't get overwhelmed like I used to AND I can now sit down if I want and take a break knowing there's not a sink of dishes waiting to be done like there used to be. 

I will have more of the things we have implemented in another future post, so look for it. Until then, God Bless!

Heather Joy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quiet Book #33: Quiet Book Covers

If you haven't already seen my posts on our quiet books then you need to check it out!  Because once you make all those wonderful pages you're going to wonder how to bind them together in a way that's easy and practical and is expandable to your children's ages and skill level.

I thought about the best way to make a quiet book cover for weeks.  Did I want to just go ahead and sew it together? Then it's permanent! Did I want the pages to be removeable? Am I going to have to make two of every page to let the girls each have their own book or...ugh! What was the best solution?  Well...this is the best solution I have found for us!  I'm excited to show you!

These are Emma's Quiet book page covers. The front and back are separate.  Keep in mind that these pictures were right after I made it and I haven't added the grommets at the bottom yet, but at least you get the idea of it.

I chose to NOT sew my pages together.  I decided that it makes it so much more versatile having the ability to swap out pages between my girls' books, so I don't have to make doubles of each page. I can also out pages as they get too easy or add more challenging ones in as needed.  During the holidays I can add in pages that pertain to Halloween, or Christmas, etc. This way has really worked out well for us. 

These ones are of Kara's and you can see how it will look when you add the grommets at the bottom.  I just use the metal rings from the office store to keep them together.  Each page that I make I add grommets to. You will also note that our book covers have the handles on them making it easy for the girls to carry their own books around.  The book also latches on the front side with a button to keep it from opening up all the time.

A couple things I made sure of when I was making the covers was to make sure my grommets lined up with the pages, and to make the cover large enough I wasn't going to have any pages sticking out around the edges. I wanted these to be clean, nice looking covers and I think they turned out perfect.  The girls love that their names are on them and it keeps the confusion down of who's who's. 

I hope these covers inspire you to come up with a creative way to mount all of those wonderful quiet book pages together that you've been working on!

Thanks for looking and Happy Sewing!
God Bless!

Heather Joy

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bug Week: Day 2 of Butterflies

Here we are of day two of bugs. My girls really like butterflies so we had another day of fun learning about butterflies!

Today's activities were focused on how butterflies eat but because today is April Fools Day we started off reading Arthur's April Fools. Around here it's a fun day mostly because it's Grandpa's birthday but the girls are getting old enough to try to start learning about the fun side of April Fools too. This book was okay, but I used it mainly as a topic for discussion of how our pranks or tricks need to be fun for everyone, especially the person you're pranking. We talked about how it's important to do this while not disrespecting the person or making them feel embarrassed in any way. We just want jokes that get a little laugh from everyone. So, we used this book as a way to talk about how we could have done things differently. We mentioned how Binky Barnes was trying to belittle and bully people and that should never be our intention and how Arthur maybe shouldn't have tricked and embarrassed Binky on the stage in front of everyone but how later he does a more private prank so he would get a good innocent laugh all by himself, at the end of the book. (Another disclaimer on the book is that I taped a page together to skip Arthur's nightmare. Not pictures I want my daughter seeing, but you don't even notice anything in the story, it just skips to the next day.) I'd love to hear if you have any good books on April Fools Day that you read. 

After our book we did a simple bug stamping art project. I found these bugs at Hobby Lobby but here are some similar ones on Amazon if you're looking. The girls had to match the stamps in the right colors of paint we had. The ladybug was red, grasshopper green, bee was yellow...etc. They did really good. 

Lastly, our focus for the day was learning about how butterflies eat. We talked about how they find flowers and then when they land on the flower they unroll their really long tongue called a proboscis. Then they put their tongue way deep down in the middle of the flower and suck up the sweet nectar. 

I reinforced this by having my girls pretend to be butterflies and drink nectar from a flower. I had them color a card stock flower shape, making sure to be a nice yellow center, sweet with nectar to drink. Then I put a small hole in the middle. The girls and I love to make passion tea lemonade, so we made some to be our nectar. Then the girls put the straws in their mouths and had to poke it into the middle of the flower to sip some sweet nectar. This was really fun for my older one to actually keep the 'tongue' in her mouth and move it up and down for a drink. But my littlest one still enjoy sipping up the nectar from the straw. 

If you want to add a bit more fun for older ones and don't care about germs in a family you can try to set up a few flowers outside and have the butterflies fly around from flower to flower sipping the nectar. We have all been fighting a little nose congestion lately so I didn't want to pass germs around right now but this would have been so much fun. 

Well, I hope your kids enjoy learning about how butterflies eat. If you missed my last post on butterflies you can check out our other butterfly activities here. Also, keep a look out for some more buggy adventures coming up!

God Bless you and all your critters!

Heather Joy

Bug Week: Day 1, Butterflies!

This week since it's officially Spring we are having a little bit of fun and putting off some of our regular lesson plans to learn about bugs.  The joys of 'homeschooling' your little ones is just to get them in the habit of learning.  My eldest requests to do school every day and while I try to give her what she wants I know she is still young so we just do 'school' more as a fun learning time. No pressure, no rush, if she wants to be done we're done, lots of focus on nature and God's creation and crafts.

Every kid loves to learn about bugs.  Creepy things that make you both cringe with fear sometimes also brings a very good amount of curiosity.  And that's exactly what we're trying to harness in teaching at home: feeding ones curiosity with knowledge.  "You want to know why a bee likes flowers, let's find out." Exploring together God's creation is one of my greatest joys.

We recently found a Green Anoli lizard in our front yard and he has become our new pet.  It has also provided us a great opportunity to learn about lizards. What do they eat? Why is this lizard's nickname the American Chameleon? etc. Its' been a lot of fun learning with my girls and we find out more about our pet lizard Argh. Umm...yes, that's our lizards name: Argh! We couldn't decide on a name but everytime our youngest came up to the lizard she would growl that way so we just decided to name him Argh. (Although, in writing it is sounds more like a pirate than a growl, ha!)

So, back to bugs. Today we learned about butterflies. We read Angelina and the Butterfly, which is a cute story if your Angelina fans, which we are!  Angelina catches a hurt butterfly and through a series of events learns that butterflies need to be free to be happy.  It's a cute read.

We also made some Scratch Butterfly Ornaments that the girls absolutely loved! They are black paper ornaments in the shape of a butterfly and you simply use a wooden dowel to scratch off the black to reveal a wonderful design underneath.  We tried to focus on how butterflies are symmetrical and what they means. Although the girls just wanted to scratch their entire butterfly to see the pretty colors, so weren't too focused on that. I love these scratch ornaments and we do them each Spring (they come with like two dozen!).  I like them mostly because they are so easy for even my little one and all the kids love it.  Kara says, "It's like magic."

After our ornaments we make some Butterfly Bites for a snack.
All you need is:
-Peanut Butter (or cheese spread)

Put it together like ants on a log except add the pretzels as wings.  Super easy and lots of fun.

Lastly, I had saved a fun book about bugs for the end.  It's called One to Ten...and Back Again- An Amazing Pull-The-Ribbon Book. I got this book when I used to teach and we had a scholastic book fair.  It was so cool I just had to have it. I hadn't seen anything like it, nor have I since then.  It's a book about a single bee who finds a perfect flower to rest on, when with each page turn different bugs keep being added to his resting spot. Each page turn a ribbon pulls through and shows some bugs on it, then when you get to the end you flip the book upside down and watch as each page turn the ribbons disappear as you count back down to the single bee. The girls love reading this book and watching me slowly open the page so they can see the ribbon being pulled open. I can't believe it's available for so cheap now on Amazon. If you haven't seen it check it out here. It's totally a keeper for the home library!

Well, thanks for following our first day of bug adventures and I hope you will look back to see what other bugs we'll explore!

God Bless and Happy Bug Exploring!
Heather Joy