18 May 2015

Chores... The Bane of my Parenting Existence

So in all our parenting years we have yet to come up with a method for chores and keeping things in order that has worked for us.  I've tried checklists.  I've tried reward systems.  I've tried yelling (not my finer moments).  I've tried being totally on top of the kids to keep them focussed and on task for each and every chore or task they have.  Nothing has worked.  Now, this failure is due, in part, to my general lack of desire to follow through until it becomes habit for the kids.  The other part is we have four kids of varying ages and abilities.  It becomes really easy to just have the big kids do their parts and do the jobs of the little girls for them because it is faster.  My oldest girl is quick to get her tasks done.  She is thorough and does her jobs without complaining.  My oldest child, on the other hand, is the biggest bear when it comes to taking care of things.  I'm not sure this chore system will help with that but I'm hopeful it will help motivate.  I read a blog called Under the Sycamore.  She has five kids of varying ages and she posted this chore board she made.  I thought it was worth a try.  I started with the clothes pins.  Two packs of 18 cost me around $4 at our local grocery store.  You can probably find them cheaper elsewhere.  I have a ton of paint and spray paint on hand, so I taped off the pins (I have five for each kid for daily responsibilities) and I spray painted them while holding them.  It was fast and easy but I ended up with a hand that was quite speckled and colorful for a few days.  

These daily pins are:  
Make Bed
Read 30 Minutes
Exercise
Pick up/Wash Clothes (Laundry responsibilities for the big kids will start this summer.  I'm teaching them so they can do their own laundry and it will be their own responsibility.  Hopefully, within the next two years each kid will be doing their own laundry. In the meantime, the little girls will be responsible for picking up dirty clothes and putting away clean laundry.)
Pick up personal items/toys  (This is for the entire house.  We have so much square footage, it is super easy for everything from each kid to get dragged across the house and left out without so much as a second glance.)


I also made up 10 pins that have chores or responsibilities that will rotate through the kids throughout the week.  These pins are:
Help make dinner 
Load Dishwasher
Unload Dishwasher
Pick up toy closet
Pick up coat closet
Pick up trash in Big room
Clean Bathroom Sinks
Pick Up Stage 
Straighten Book Shelf
Vacuum Rugs
These will rotate through the kids.  Obviously, I or Daniel will have to help the little girls get some of these done but the goal will be for them to do the tasks along side us until they are big enough to tackle them on their own.  I have a feeling we'll be changing or adding to these pins as the time goes on.   


I had Daniel cut me a piece of scrap wood we had to 6"x25".  I painted it with two coats of chalkboard paint and let it cure.  Then I seasoned it, drilled two holes and threaded a bit of rope though to hang it.  Each kid has  their own section.  When they finish a task, they move it to the top.  If it is a weekly/daily task that rotates, they move it to the ends when they finish it.    




I am slowly working on getting a hub organized in the kitchen for all the things we as a family need to keep track of stuff.  This is what I have, so far.  My household to-do list.  This is not to be confused with paperwork or shopping or menu making or any other to-do items.  This to-do list is only for household tasks I need to complete.  I have my paper calendar.  Everything is on my phone calendar, as well, but it is good for the family to be able to see what is scheduled.  I will probably get myself back into the habit of keeping a paper planner as soon as school starts again for me and the kids because I will not be able to keep track of it all.  


I love the option of chalk boards for this sort of stuff.  It's fun and easy to use and can be used over and over and over again.  We'll see if this chore/responsibility board works out for us.  I'm hopeful that since we'll be starting it at the beginning of summer and we'll all have plenty of time to get accustomed to it, it will be a success.  Pray for us, ok?  


I'm also working on some little projects around the house to check some items off the list.  We've been at a bit of a standstill with projects because of a lack of time, money and energy.  Everything is in a completely functional place but now I'm trying to get some things ticked off that make spaces more useful or happier or prettier.  I'm doing as much of this as I can with material we have on hand in an effort to save money and use up construction materials.  Stay tuned for some of those updates.  

11 May 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0 (Late, again!)

171.  Coffee with just a little milk. 
172.  Cutting myself some slack but not for too long. 
173.  Trim in the bathroom.
174.  Coloring with the little girls. 
175.  The unbelievably generous heart of my oldest girl. 
176.  Getting to be mom to my kiddos. 
177.  Knowing my mothering extends to more than just my own children. 
178.  Seeing our church be Jesus to a couple in mourning. 
179.  A generous friend who let me dig in her garden and help her plant vegetables.
180.  Living life in community. 
181.  Being honest. 
182.  Seeing value in opening up rather than keeping everything private. 
183.  Hanging more things on the walls. 
184.  Provision. 
185.  Knowing weighty things but not being overwhelmed by them. 
186.  The articulacy of our toddler. 
187.  The beauty of our four year old. 
188.  The joy and sneakiness of our Georgia. 
189.  The quiet observational mind of our boy. 
190.  Daniel's servant heart.   

06 May 2015

I This week a couple, who has attended our church sort of sporadically, lost their 8 month old baby to who knows what (seriously, they don't yet know why he died) calamity. Another friend's child was hit by a car and suffered a compound fracture to her femur. Another friend is traversing new territory of a diagnosis. Another friend found out fantastic but hugely life altering news recently. This week we've been dealing with an unpleasant but not horrific issue in our household.  These other things bring our stuff into perspective. 

I'm not a fan of "embrace the day" or "cherish the season" posts. I feel it diminishes the difficulty and the greatness of every phase or period in life. But, you guys, we walk through this world so consumed by our lists and what everyone else is doing and all sorts of stuff that we sometimes miss just how wonderful the mundane (or let's be real, the often frustrating) days of this life are. 
I told Daniel tonight I can only be thankful that the issue we faced this week was what it was and nothing more.  
So, I'm speaking to myself here but, cut yourself a little scoosh. Let the expectations gently collapse a bit. Take the day you have, be it idyllic and wonderful or frustrating and full of poop and love the day you're in.  If the day is less than you had hoped for, be ever so grateful we have societal norms of bedtime for children.  Squeeze your babies no matter their age and squeal with joy at good news, even if it has no direct impact on you. Groan with those in pain because that's the only thing that really fits.  This life is too short to live it comparing everything. 

28 April 2015

Challenge

I'm at the end of my 30 Day Fitness Challenge. My goals at the beginning were not completely insane. I had four. They were:
1. Work out 5-6 times a week. I was able to stick to this goal completely! I was shocked, but I definitely felt better and I found myself wanting to get a work out in, even if it was 9PM. 
2.  Drink 84-124 ounces of water a day. I was on the lower end of this everyday. There were days when I didn't even get to 84 ounces but they were few. 
3.  Cut out sugar. You guys! Sugar is insidious. I don't know what it's going to take to rid myself of the irresistible urge for sugar. I would like to say I scaled back over the last month. The truth is I did great for 1 week. After that, the cravings were too much and my will was weak.
4.  Eat as healthily as possible. This was also better than I imagined it would be with the exception of #3.  I tracked calories accurately and faithfully (even if I knew I was going over for the day) 95% of the month. I made major attempts to keep my nutrition balanced with as many whole unprocessed foods as possible. I was able to do this most successfully  with breakfast and lunch. I found if I could stay on track with those two meals I was able to eat whatever I made for the family for dinner and not go crazy. I did not by any means adhere to some outrageous diet that cut out whole food groups. I tried to stay within this percentage balance, 50% carbs, 30% protein, 20% fat. I used the app My Fitness Pal to track calories and water consumption. I'm also getting better at keeping track as I eat. I'm still going to record what I eat.  I don't know if there will be a time when I can move away from that or if I'll always need that accountability.  We'll see.  For now, this works.

Results?

I lost 7 pounds (in spite of what I thought about 3 weeks in).  I am finding I put too much stock in what the scale says. Sure, I do want to be lighter in the pounds but I got discouraged at week three when I actually gained weight.  I think for me (or maybe women in general) I need to weigh only about 2 times a month.

I lost 2 inches off my waist, 2.5 inches off my hips, 2.5 inches off my each thigh, .5 inches off my bust, and .75 inches off each bicep.  These measurements were far more telling for me.  If I only weigh myself twice a month, I will definitely continue to measure once a week.  I think these might be more motivating than the numbers on the scale.

I'm doing a 30 day Ab challenge with my friend who ran this last challenge.  I'm excited and ready to stay on this journey of getting healthier.  

27 April 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0 (a little later than normal)

161.  A Potty Trained Girl!!!! I cannot even begin to express how much joy this brings me!
162.  A good annual check up with all normal blood work. 
163.  Having a doctor I trust. 
164.  Making changes that are lasting. 
165.  Not getting discouraged by slips in judgment regarding food. 
166.  Forward movement on our front doors. 
167.  That Dad is retired and has the desire to fix our doors. 
168.  Making family friends. 
169.  A potential new customer. 
170.  An articulate little girl who asked me to "pop that banana in my mouth". :/

21 April 2015

Life

Life is nuts right now.  I have all sorts of thoughts in my head but they spend all their time whirling around in there making me crazy.  So, here's a mind dump.

-School is out in one month! I just found out they changed the end date from the 22nd to the 21st and it's only a half day!  What am I going to do with these children?  I guess we'll be figuring out and working on 4-H projects (except I have no idea what we're doing because I guess our group just assumes we have the knowledge).
-The business is on an upward trend, as far as clients go, but we need the trend to be going higher faster.
-I have to fulfill one more prerequisite this summer before I can start in August.
-I have to figure out how to pay for my degree.
-We have two school programs two nights in a row.  I like that we don't have to sit through 7 grades worth of music programs but we have a kid in the 3rd/4th group and a kid in the K-2 group so we're enjoying kids singing two nights in a row.  Next year they'll be together but the year after that we'll have THREE! separate ones to go to.
-I potty trained Bea last week.  Daniel worked with her and mom was here one day to help.  I dreaded it like I have never dreaded potty training.  It turns out she is champ.  No more babies in our house.  (As an aside, I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  I read a blog of a woman who has five kids, college aged down to three.  She has lamented for the last several years I've read her blog how so very sad she is she won't have any more babies in her house and how great having babies in the house is.  Don't get me wrong, I loved my babies when they were babies.  I struggled and lamented and laughed and enjoyed.  I am blessed to have been able to be with them through all the major milestones that come in those first couple of years.  But, I have not once felt the need to worship at the altar of the baby.  I am loving every stage and phase of our children's life and I don't for a moment feel like we're missing out on something because we are out of the baby stage.  At this point, there is little about the baby stage that I miss.  And there is so much I'm enjoying about the age of the elementary and preschool kid stages we're in.  These kids have creativity and ideas and imaginations and the ability to communicate and my older two are starting to understand reason and bigger issues.  I wasn't dragging my feet on potty training because I wanted to keep Bea little.  She's big and getting bigger by the day.  And, on this front, I am so excited to see how life unfolds for us in the next couple of years.)
-I'm in the process of getting both Clementine and Bea into preschool.  One of my good friends runs the preschool at the elementary school and she is awesome.  If they both get in, I feel completely confident they are in great hands.
-Our goal for thriving and not just surviving this year is limping along.  I think we're still working towards that goal.
-Jesus and I are working on my heart regarding trust and hope.  I don't know if any of you have ever been in a place where hope with a little H is nearly nonexistent but Hope with a big H still remains? For a while now, I have been sure I have Hope in being with Jesus when I die but the little hopes I have in this life we life we have right now have been absent.  This is a hard place to be because hope is what helps keep us moving forward.  But hope is also so very dangerous.  It sets us up for major disappointment at our cores.  So, I'm trying to be open about this with you and my Lord.  My hopes for this life are mine and it's possible I've been placing too much importance on them and having them met.  It's possible I assigned the Lord's blessing to my hopes without actually seeking or hearing whether or not it was true.  It's possible I've elevated them to a place of such grandeur I can no longer see what remaining open and flexible to what God has in store for us really looks like.  It's possible I needed to grieve what I thought life would look like but I haven't given myself permission to do so.  Because when we planned this move and new business several years ago, this is nothing like what we thought it would be.  When hopes die and dreams turn into nightmares and the hardness of life keeps getting harder with no relief there is no shelter in the storm but Jesus.  But when it feels like Jesus has abandoned you, where are you left?  It is a dark place, people.  The kind of darkness that threatens to consume you.  (Please don't read this and think I'm in dire straights.  Things in my heart, head and faith department are much better than they have been in six months.  Just keeping it real with where I've been and the rabbit holes I sometimes still find myself jumping into.)
-My goal of being sugar free for a month has been obliterated.  Seriously sugar, why are you so yummy? *Sigh*
-I'm still working out 5-6 times a week and so far I've lost 1.5" off my waist, 2.5" off my hips, 2.5" off my thighs and my bust and biceps have remained the same.  So, that's something.
-I tried running the other night.  I just don't know if I'll ever be a runner.  I might keep trying to make a true assessment but maybe I'm just a work out in the privacy of my own bedroom sort of lady.
-Yearly physical tomorrow, home improvement projects over the weekend, a MOPS dinner at our house the next week, a graduation to attend, summer to plan, friends to see, life to live, heads to keep above water.
-Mind dump finished.  

17 April 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0

146. Getting to be mom to a loving, creative, goofy, and sometimes infuriating boy. 
147.  Celebrating Phinn with family. 
148.  More than the normal bumber of third graders in my house. 
149.  Fellowship with our church family. 
150.  Feeling stronger. 
151.  Not giving up. 
152.  Losing inches. 
153.  Getting stuff straight for grad school. 
154.  Still clinging to hope for the future.  
155.  Potty training for the last time. 
156.  Pringles. 
157.  Chocolate motivators. 
158.  Juice.
159.  Wisdom from previous experiences that tells me not to give up and that each kid is different. 
160.  That by day 2.5 it looks like she's getting it.