Monday, January 30, 2012

Laundry Daze

One of the hardest tasks for me to keep ahead of around here is laundry. Every day around here is laundry day. If I'm not backed up with loads waiting to be washed, I'm swamped with baskets of clean clothes awaiting folding and putting away. It seems to be a chore that I can never check off my to-do list.

Our home improvement project right now is renovating the finished part of the basement. This serves as our playroom/laundry room. It's a big space, so room is not an issue. We're just hoping to avoid having laundry piles all over the floor.

When we moved into this house, there was a huge, built-in bar down in that room. Actually there's also mirror tiles on one wall and dark paneling on others. This must have been one groovy house back in the 70's!

Anyway, BadDad had the idea to remove the bar from the corner that it was tucked in. There's plenty of nicer spaces in this house to have a drink without having to retreat to the basement to do it. He moved it over opposite to the washer and dryer. The shelves that were meant to hold bar ware are plenty big enough to hold baskets for sorting loads of laundry.It's dark and gloomy down there right now, but once we paint and put in new flooring, it could actually be pleasant to stand there and fold clean clothes. Well, as pleasant as laundry can ever be. Soon I'll have no more excuses to avoid folding clothes. Hooray?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly Planning

Being a homeschooling mom has forced me to become more organized in many ways. Each day and week starts with at least a general plan of what I (and the kids) have to accomplish. Every year it becomes a bit harder too. The academics get more challenging as the grade levels go up, we're involved in more outside activities, and now that D-boy is kindergarten age, I'm officially homeschooling all three of my children. On top of that, I have all of the regular jobs of just being a mom and running a household.

One thing that helps me is meal planning. I like to allow flexibility, because I don't always know what the week will bring, and just how draining a particular day might be. Still, I feel better just knowing that I've got a plan for each dinner, and the time and ingredients to make it. I try to plan the easiest meals for the most grueling days, so I'm not in such a rush. This week for instance, I made a nice chicken casserole for Sunday dinner tonight. I know that on Tuesday and Wednesday, I'll barely be getting home in time to cook dinner so for those days I'm planning pork chops in the slow cooker, and a last minute beef casserole. The remaining days can be filled with homemade Macaroni and Cheese, homemade pizza, Pasta Primavera and one leftover night.

As far as academic planning, I know that we need to make the most of Monday, Tuesday, and Friday this week. Those are days that we'll be home all day, and we'll work as long as it takes to get every subject in. K-boy and M-girl have drama all afternoon on Wednesday (which gives me one on one time with D-boy). Thursday afternoons are taken up with our homeschooling group. On days when we have to be out for the afternoon, we focus on the core subjects in the morning (math, grammar, spelling, reading) and get as much done as we can.

Household chores tend to get done on those days when we're here all day too. I'm usually running between the schoolroom and the laundry room or kitchen. The kids all have cleaning responsibilities. I usually have to double-check, and sometimes re-do, but at least they're learning!

I've learned over the past four years to build flexibility into our schedule. Someone gets sick, an activity gets changed, or certain subjects are taking longer than predicted. As long as we still have the goal in sight, we're able to bounce back again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


M-girl got sick today as she was working on her math lesson. Somehow she managed to miss destroying her Saxon Math workbook. Whew! Those things aren't cheap. I started cleaning up the mess in the schoolroom and sent her to go change her clothes. She stood there for a moment, looking upset and said, "But don't I need to finish my math first?" That's dedication!

That changed our plans for the day. We were rushing through the core subjects, so that we could meet our homeschooling group for ice-skating. I happen to be the mom in charge of co-ordinating lessons this year. After a quick email and two phone calls, I was assured that everyone wasn't going to be waiting in vain for our arrival to begin the lesson.

Of course, M-girl needed convincing. "I feel fine now", she insisted, hoping that we could still go. Call me over-cautious, but when one of my offspring starts vomiting, I'm inclined to cancel our plans for the day. She definitely seems to be on the mend though, sometimes a day of watching cartoons and eating saltines can do wonders. With luck,she'll be ready to hit the ice next week.

D-boy's kindergarten work doesn't take long, so this afternoon I ended up with an unusual amount of time to focus only on K-boy's studies. Lucky him! Wha ha ha!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homeschool Day

People who don't homeschool often wonder how I'm able to get my kids to sit still and listen to me so I can force some knowledge into them. I always answer that it's a lot easier to manage the education of three children (whom I've known their entire lives) than it is for a schoolteacher to teach roughly 25 kids. I won't pretend that every day is a blissful experience where all of them show up in the schoolroom on time and ready to learn. Some days are amazing, others are exhausting, and most are some combination of the two extremes.

Today was fairly typical. My youngest was up first, while the other two took their time getting out of bed. The rule in our house is eat breakfast, get washed and dressed, and then if there's any time left before class starts, it's free time. I was scrambling this morning because I was trying out a new recipe for homemade baked beans, while researching 'The Three Musketeers', and printing out some Power Rangers coloring pages as an incentive program for my little guy. I let the older two start with working on their book reports, which was more hands on for me with my second grader than for the sixth grader. It seemed that every time I got them settled with independent work, I had to run back downstairs to throw in another load of laundry, check on the beans, or empty the dishwasher. I finally had all of the kids settled with work (and backup work) by about 10 am. I took the opportunity to jump in the shower. Sure enough by the time I was done, M-girl was at the bathroom door calling for me. Apparently she hit her head on the pencil sharpener (better not to ask, trust me).

We got through the rest of the morning in much the same manner, with me scurrying from child to child, and task to task. At lunchtime the neighbor boy called wanting to play (public- schoolers were off today). I was proud of K-boy when he said that he'd be available after his schoolwork was done. We cracked open a new science kit, which kept the younger two enthralled for an hour. A little finish up work, and we were officially done for the day. Overall not bad. Progress was made. I can sleep tonight.

 <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" width="130" height="130" alt="Hip Homeschool Hop Button" /></a>

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bedtime Blues

Bedtime has been my nemesis for many years. When I was a new mommy, breastfeeding precluded my husband from taking a very active part in putting the munchkin to sleep. Yeah, I know the manuals say to put the baby in the crib while awake, but trust me if the baby falls asleep while nursing you're good. Put him in the crib and run.

Somehow the routine has evolved over the years with me still bearing the greater burden of putting the kids to bed. On a typical evening, BadDad calls out to the kids that it's bedtime. He'll help with prayers and then wave goodnight from the door. That about sums up his role.

I, however, don't get off quite so easily. Before the actual tucking in, I've got the job of giving D-boy his 'dentist appointment', and tracking down M-girl to make sure she brushes her pearly whites. These days I'm just praying that K-boy is actually brushing his, because I sure don't have time to check. After prayers in the boy's room, I've got to read a story. Some nights I'm lucky enough not to get interrupted at every other word. Then it's down to M-girl's room for at least one chapter of her latest book, and often I'm cajoled into a second one. Finally I head to the kitchen to make sure everything is cleared up (heaven help me if it's been a popcorn night).

By the time I finally fall into bed I'm exhausted. BadDad will usually look up from his TV show about then and ask something like, "What took you so long?" Aggghhh!!!

Emergency Parent

I'm the go-to parent for a lot of things. If someone is hungry, I'm the woman to see. Want to read a story, need laundry done, have a bathroom issue? I'm your girl. There's one area though (OK, OK, more thane one) where my husband surpasses me in parenting...emergencies.

I hate the sight of my kids bleeding or in pain. I can usually hide my feelings until they are patched up, and then I sink weak-kneed to the bathroom floor until my shaking stops. If BadDad is home though, I'm more than happy to allow him the glory of being first on the scene.

Luckily he was home last year when M-girl leaped off a toy box and broke her foot. He was on the scene when K-boy fell into a door-knob and cut his head. Oh, and that awful, sleety night when M-girl started turning blue because she had the croup and couldn't breathe. He wasn't home when two year old D-boy fell off a kitchen chair and split his lip, but to his credit he rushed home from work and took him to the emergency room. Twelve stitches later, BadDad cemented his title of Go-To Emergency Parent.

So today, when the silence of a weekend morning was broken by M-girl rushing inside to announce that K-boy had crashed into a tree on his sled and was hurt, I thanked my lucky stars that BadDad was home. He threw a coat and boots on over his pajamas and rushed outside, while I was still gearing myself up to face the gore. Fortunately this time it was no more than a bruised knee. I'm thinking of implementing some new safety rules for the kids for times when BadDad isn't home. It involves massive quantities of bubble wrap and cotton batting.