Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homeschool Tip for This Week

If you are having trouble keeping up with all the things you need to read out to your kids because it ties up time you need for dishes or folding washing consider using a recipe book stand to put the text on and sit it on the window sill in front of you while you do dishes or beside you as you fold washing.

I use a perspex one so that the book stays protected from splashes.

Best wishes

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bathroom safety tips!

* never store plugs on the bench or where anyone under the age of 4 can reach (ask how I know not to do this! lol)

* store only bath mats, hand towels and face washers under your sink, avoid nasty and dangerous chemicals down low

* keep all razors up high above the height even an 8 year old can reach (my 8yo has no eyebrows thanks to mum's razor!)

* spread the shower curtain out when finished, don't leave clumped at one side of the shower

* use a small coloured plastic basket per child for their toothbrush, a cup and any other little personal cleaning items; place each on the tiled shelf usually at the end of the bath or next to the shower

* never put fancy soap beside the basin, and definitely not soap with a plunger

* keep benches as clear of clutter as possible as it makes it easier to clean up the inevitable puddles

Best wishes

Menu planning made easy!

Well, easier for me anyway!

I use binders, one for each of 4 weeks. In the front of each I put the weekly menu plan, hopefully including baking and snacks, and in behind it I put the shopping list for that week's plan. In the subsequent sleeves I place a copy of all the recipes I will be using.

I take the whole binder with me to the shop as it is only a very slender one and if I see a bargain I can quickly check which recipe I will skip that week and not get the ingredients for it. It has also helped when an ingredient has not been available and I have been able to ask the butcher or deli assistant for a substitute.

It is suggested here that you both keep your old plans and post the current one in a public spot. I agree with these ideas, especially if you have remembered to date the menu plan so you can remember the time of year that plan was for and the types of meals suitable for the season.

In the last few weeks I have started to get a regular set up for breakfasts and lunches. They don't vary much, but just enough to keep things interesting but memorable. For instance every Monday morning I know I need to cook Apple Muffins and Fridays are Banana or Date muffins depending on how many bananas are left in the fruit bowl and their condition.

Lunches are wraps with meat, sliced or cold chicken, with salad bits. I use tortilla wraps as they last in my bread box much longer than bread and I am trying to keep our simple carbs to a minimum.

Dinners are all over the place although over the 4 weeks I do repeat some family favourites such as spaghetti, beef and pumpkin risotto and creamy chicken.

Best wishes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lots of Laundry

With 6 people in the house there is almost certainly a lot of laundry to do each week. Here is how I do it.

There are washing hampers in both my and dh's bedroom and the boys' bedroom. My 8.5yo boy collects them and any stray items left under desk chairs, near the lounge (dh's socks!!) and the kitchen towels. He dumps it all on the floor of the bathroom/laundry.

I sort the dirty washing into 3 washing hampers along the wall and a basin on the floor. My baskets are darks (navy, lots of it, black and red); lights (green, white and grey, bright and pale blues); hand washing; and the basin is for linens and wet clothes from messes or playing under the hose.

In the morning I put in a light load from the basket. When it comes out it gets either hung out or put in the dryer depending on the weather, my mood and how busy the day will be. Next to go in is a dark load. And it comes out around lunch time to be either hung out or dryed.

Each afternoon the washing is folded from the basket near the dryer, which also happens to be next to the back door, where the big boys put it if they had to bring in washing off the line. I sort the washing into a trug per person, and then 2 extra trugs for kitchen linen and baby linen vs bathroom and bedroom linen. Some days I fold all the trugs, sometimes one or two, and honestly some days none, but at least the kids are only looking thru their own trug for clothes if the cupboards are bare.

In the evening just before going to bed I put a load of linen in. I try to get the kitchen towels in but I sometimes forget. I put them on a long hot cycle so all the nasties are gone. All my linen is dried in the dryer. I just like them soft and fluffy.

Now I can get fussy. I do not put either reds or greens into any other load. They are kept separate. I will mix greys, white and pale blues. I will mix navy and black. I don't like putting a dark load in after the linen as left over lint in the machine may transfer to the darker items.

I wash all of dh's work clothes on one day of the weekend. The lighter work shirts in the morning and his dark shirt, socks and boxers in the afternoon. His shirts are all hung on the shower rail to dry and in the morning he grabs one to iron as he leaves the bathroom. I Do Not Iron. Well, maybe, but not every week, maybe not even every month but certainly not every day.

I have been inspired to share how I do my laundry after reading items here and here.

Best wishes,

How has my week been?

So we started back with school last week. The "new" routine is working much better. I do have a straggler kid and he is finding himself "behind" quite a bit. He has spent a big chunk of the weekend getting all this school work for this week finished. I bet there will be tears tomorrow when it all starts again.

I think G-d has been giving me a hit up the side of the head recently. I have had several people and my own ponderings lead me to the same conclusion, I need to be tougher with my kids, not meaner, just stronger and more immovable once I make a decision on how things are going to happen. It sure is nice to know He knows I need some guidance and sends it to me in various forms.

On the househunting side of things (which we have been doing for well over 6 months) we have decided to stay here although this house is wonky (literally falling apart and sloping/bouncing floors in places). The rent is great and will allow us to clear some debts and even create some savings.

Well, baby wants mama to sit lounge. Off to spend some time with my beloved and a baby.

Best wishes

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Hedge trimming" your children

I have been walking each morning for the last 2 days. I live in an area that has some beautiful manicured gardens and some not quite so manicured yet still beautiful gardens.

I was looking at some hedges around the area and realised something that relates to my calling as mama. The hedges that looked the best were compact and no big gaps in the greenery. Others were shaped but had obviously been left for quite a while before being trimmed back, probably with a trimmer in a "hacking" manner. The end result was that the shape was good in a superficial way but it didn't have a good "body" to it.

Training my kids works in a similar way. If I leave teaching and guiding them until they are "scraggly" and overgrown with bad habits I can "train" them back to the right shape, usually with a bit of "hacking" but they aren't whole with good "body". There will be gaps in our relationship where I have to prune roughly just to get the shape to look right. If I instead prune gently and pay attention to when a "branch" or habit is starting that could lead to a really straggly shape/character, then my "hedge" will have better shape and will look good with strong structure/character under the good looks.

When I have let some bad habits creep in I need to remember to gently prune them away, bit by bit, consistently. If I try to "hack" my kids into shape when I have let things get out of hand I will damage the end result, ending up with a character that is hole-y and not as strong as it could be, even though the shape looks good and our relationship will suffer.

Now to figure out how to stop one child from being bossy and another being a complainer. Ah, the joys of motherhood, one of the hardest jobs on earth, but the rewards are immense.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Changing routines

I have usually schooled my 2 oldest boys one at a time. I would work with ds1 on a topic then send him away to work on his own while I worked with ds2 on some of his work and so on and so forth all day long. And it was long, and my ds3, 5.5yo, was not getting any real time for school. I didn't think he needs it.

But then kids have a way of changing our plans, don't they? Ds3 is zooming along with his letter recognition and his maths skills are improving along with his handwriting. It is time to include him in school.

This requires a change in routines. I am going to be doing one-room school house teaching. In other words all the boys will sit around the table for Language Arts first. I will guide each one on their work at once, going back and forth guiding each student. There will be less "losing" students to the backyard to play and we will work together. After a break we will then move on to Maths, break, Science and History, break and then Music or Art.

It does mean I need to get some more activities to occupy them at the table. I had never been a fan of workbooks, saw them as "busywork" with little value. This old theory of mine seemed to work for my older pencil phobic boys but I am realising that their skills are not as strong due to lack of repetition. Sure, filling in worksheet after worksheet can seem boring and just work to keep them busy but worksheets also fill the purpose of consolidating skills, of practicing and really getting that knowledge to sink in due to repetition. Looks like more than just my routines are needing to change, my attitude too?!

So, here I go, off to our local school supplier to look for workbooks for littles and bigs. And I will search the internet too. I have found some great sites over time. Just where did I put them though?!?

Best wishes
Jen in NSW