Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Funnies: Really Tall Tales

Our kids like to tell stories.  Last week I mentioned their Roman sons, and this week the kids and their many sons were up to more exciting adventures.  Here's an excerpt of a lunchtime conversation where they caught me up to speed on all they had been doing in their play time.

Joshua: Hannah and I drove a trillion and ten passenger bus to church today.  It was a trillion and ten stories tall.  That's very tall.

Me: Wow...that certainly is tall.

Joshua: Yeah, well, we have a trillion and ten kids.

Me, trying not to have the typical response when a person finds out how many children you have: I bet that's a lot of fun.

Joshua: Well, it is.  But Hannah and I are having our trillion and eleventh child.  We want to get to a trillion and twenty.  [thoughtful pause] And then maybe a trillion and trillion.  How about that, Hannah?  A trillion and trillion kids?!

Hannah: Okay.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fivefingers update!

For the running nerds among y'all, have been running in the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS, doing my 3 mile speedwork sessions in them and today ran 4 miles at a 9:30 to sub 9 min/mile pace (which is fast for a slowpoke like me) and felt great!  Looking forward to running further in them!  This barefoot/minimalist running thing may have something to it after all!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Surprises Abound (Part 1) - Crawlers

So, several days ago I posted this teaser to the blog.  We had a couple of questions as to the nature of this surprise and today we are ready to disclose.

It all started...well, we're not actually sure when it started.  But our attention was drawn to the situation in the parking lot of Arby's.  Yes, we do occasionally take our kids to fast food and we do enjoy it.  They thought it was great and all of them (except for Hannah) devoured lots of horsey sauce to show their enthusiasm.  Upon loading the car after lunch I noticed two bugs on Abby's head.  And then I noticed a few more.  And then I found these:


A little bit of worry.  A little bit of questioning.  A quick Google search once we arrived home and...

SURPRISE!  We have head lice!

Now, before you jump to conclusions about our personal hygiene habits please be informed of the following facts concerning head lice.  You can check out the source of this information here.
  • Head lice can walk from one head to another when the heads are touching for some time.
  • You are very unlikely to pick up head lice from brief contact with other people. The longer you have head to head contact with someone who has lice, the more likely it is you will get them too.
  • You don’t get them from objects such as the chair back. Although it’s just possible that a louse might get from one head to another if a hat is shared, this is very unlikely. It’s not the way infection is usually caught.
  • Most people only realize they have head lice when this itch starts. By then they’ve had lice on their head for two or three months without knowing it.
  • Some people never get the itch, including adults. They may have a few lice on their heads for years without knowing it, and can pass them to other people.
  • Try not to worry too much about head lice. They are unpleasant, but they rarely do any harm other than causing an itchy scalp.
Can you say "GROSS!!!"???

We jumped into action right away.  If you're interested in ways to treat head lice without using insecticides we had success with this spray and this comb.  The spray was the most effective, but the comb had a bit of a wow factor in that you actually got to zap those little bugs.  I know...yuck!

After discovering the family of lice residing in Abby's hair, we thoroughly checked everyone else in the family.  The boys were lice and nit free.  Hannah had a few of each and even I had some.  Ewwww...  How did I catch them?  It's pretty likely to catch lice from a carrier when that person climbs into your bed every night and shares your pillow.

Now that we're about a week into treatment we are officially lice free.  Praise the Lord!  And I even got an impromptu haircut in the privacy of our garage since combing to detect and remove lice was a real problem with long hair.  At least I was planning on getting a haircut anyway.

Head lice is one of those parenting experiences that I was dreading.  It definitely ranked at the top with the stomach flu, large gaping wounds, broken bones protruding through the skin, and the chicken pox.  What did we learn through this?  It is very possible to discover and head lice infestation and live to tell about.

Please, don't be too grossed out.  And please don't think that we never wash or comb our children's hair.  I learned from my research that lice could really care less if they are living in clean, dirty, long, short, curly, or straight hair.  They just want a nice warm place to breed and live in peace.  But they won't be finding any further refuge in our hair if we can help it!  Check out this preventative treatment to deter lice from taking up residency on your head.

And don't forget to do regular checks, especially if you have kids.

Friday Funnies: When in Rome...

Some kids have imaginary friends.  Joshua (5 1/2 years old) has an imaginary son who ranges in age from 17-31 years old.  This son of his does all kinds of expected and unexpected things.  I think his son's name is Jedidiah but since Joshua usually just says, "My son..." I'm not really sure.  Hannah and Abigail also have imaginary sons.  At any given moment, their sons are usually the same age and in the same circumstances as Joshua's son.

It is also important to note the Joshua is fascinated with Ancient Rome at the moment.  And since he can't reconcile the passing of time, he thinks that modern day Rome must be just like it was a couple thousand years ago.  I think that he fully expects to travel to Rome and see a real, live Roman soldier girded up in the appropriate attire.  (See picture above for Joshua's version of the Roman armor).  Anyway...the combination of adventurous, imaginary sons and a desire to incorporate Rome into any and every conversation possible led to the discussion outlined below.

Hannah, reading signs in a parking lot:  That sign says"exit".
Joshua:  Yeah, well my son says "exid".
Hannah:  But my son says "exit" because that's what it  says.
Joshua:  Well, my son says "exid" because he's from modern day Rome.  He's a Roman.
Abigail:  But my son says "exat"!
Joshua and Hannah together:  No!  He can't say "exat"!

The lesson here is obvious.  When in Rome...talk like your Roman sons!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

What is Easter All About?


Our older kids (5 1/2 and 4 1/2) will be the first to tell you that Easter has nothing to do with bunnies, eggs, and jelly beans.  And hopefully after they inform you of that they will go on to say that we celebrate Easter to remember that Jesus Christ - the Son of God - died on a cross to pay the price for our sins.  He was buried and on the third day He rose again.  Jesus is alive!  This is what Easter is all about and we're quite happy to keep our kids' focus on it.

This year we've been making an effort to teach the Easter story to Abigail (2 1/2 years old).  In my experience 2- and 3-year-olds are excited to learn about Jesus' death and resurrection.  In this video, Abigail constructed her own Easter object lesson.  It just goes to show that you never know when your toddler's attention will be fixed on something so important - apparently stacks of rice noodles and pasta were what got Abby's wheels turning!

video

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Surprises Abound


You just never know what's coming around the corner.  This is especially true when little people are involved.  Just for fun, I'm not going to disclose all that we have been surprised with recently.  Just know that a couple of posts will find their way to the blog at the fullness of time.

Until then, we're finding joy in the joyful as well as in the interesting surprises that come our way.

So, how do you respond to surprising circumstances?


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dates


Claude and I never really went on dates before we were married.  Something about the 7,000 mile commute from Arizona to Australia got the better of us.  We did go to a fancy(ish) restaurant once.  That was to talk about getting engaged (on the trip where we didn't think we would get engaged).  That was nice - a bit awkward but a lovely restaurant and obviously a productive conversation.

Once we were married we weren't really in a financial situation to think of going out to eat or to a movie for a date.  So we did the next best thing.  We walked through the grocery store aisles together.  Those were actually rough times in life, but we both have fond memories of those grocery store dates.

Then came the invention of the car date.  That started on our first wedding anniversary when we actually planned a picnic at the beach.  And then it rained.  Sounds a lot like our wedding day...minus the beach and add some very gracious wedding party attendants and guests.  We enjoyed our picnic lunch in the confines of a borrowed sedan on that first car picnic.  We had fun and eventually made it outside (with an umbrella) to take some photos on the dock.


The car date served us well as we had children, too.  After the first anniversary date, most of our dates were chaperoned.  And when the chaperone is sleeping quietly in the back seat you really don't want to disturb him.  So, you have more picnics in the car.  We've eaten sticks of lunchmeat, blocks of cheese, potato chips, and greasy, messy gyros in our car over the years.  It's been fun - and apparently very unhealthy!

Then we discovered the joys of couch dates.  These dates usually involved some ice cream and have been ditched in recent months as we weren't enjoying the effects of so much ice cream.  But we still have couch-like dates each evening as we putter around the house cleaning up and preparing for the next day.  It's fun to hang out, chat, and laugh about the events of the day.

Today we enjoyed our first unchaperoned date in a while.  I think Claude had hoped to have an actual date (like seeing alligators at the nearby state park) but in the end we decided to head over to Ikea for some bookshelves.  We've done Ikea with three kids 3 years and under.  It was looooong (7 hours...at least) and draining and involved renting and returning a U-Haul van.  Better to have an Ikea date then repeat that episode from our life.

And the whole reason I'm writing this post is that our bookshelf buying date started with a car picnic in the Ikea parking lot.  We even improved on our very first car picnic by opening the doors and windows and using the empty space in the van (we removed the seats to accommodate the shelves) as our picnic area.  It was fun and with a beautiful day like today we really couldn't have improved on our Ikea run.

It strikes me how simple building relationship can be.  All we need is the willingness to prioritize spending time together and opportunities to "do life" with one another.  I think I had more fun eating hamburgers and onion rings in the back of our empty mini-van than I did sitting in a fancy restaurant trying to talk about engagement and marriage.  Of course, it helps that the 7,000 mile gap has shortened considerably since then.  And our friendship has grown for over 7 years now with a lot of shared life experiences to draw us closer together.

I hope that in another 7 years and then another 7 more we're still having fun together whether we're eating burgers in the car, chaperoned by yet another infant, or sitting on the couch enjoying a near-midnight snack.


So, what are your favorite date destinations/activities?

 

 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rhythm Lesson


Joshua (5 1/2 years old) is learning some simple piano accompaniments to his favorite Bible songs.  His repertoire is up to two songs and three different chords.  He's doing well.  However, keeping a steady beat and staying in rhythm seems to be a challenge.  This morning, with his guitar, Claude gave Joshua a mini lesson in keeping time.

As they clapped/strummed the beat, Claude said, "While you're playing you have to keep this rhythm in your head all the time."

"Yeah, like you're brain is thumping!"  Joshua replied.

"Yes, exactly!"

Friday Funnies: Breezy

Last week I missed the promised Friday Funnies post so today I'll be sharing a story that happened at the park last week.

Abigail (2 1/2 years old) began potty training last Monday. I was not ready for this course of events, but she has been begging to go potty and to wear big girl underwear for about a month so I decided at the last minute (Sunday afternoon) that I should just jump on the bandwagon and see what happens.

She has been doing a fantastic job and is so set on wearing underwear that she won't take a diaper even overnight. This has actually worked well because we made the switch and apparently we're not looking back. (I'm glad that Abby is more driven and committed than I am in this area!)

Anyway...we went to the neighborhood park last Thursday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, the kids worked hard to finish their schoolwork early, and I wanted some time to be able to talk with my mom over the phone. About an hour into our visit the older two children called out to me, "Look at Abby! Mommy, look at Abby!"

My attention was immediately fixed on a little girl, crouched down under a leaf-less tree, her bare bottom in the breeze. I couldn't help but laugh out loud while Abby frantically said, "I have to go potty, Mommy!"

Praise the Lord we have a portable potty in our van. I know...it sounds totally ghetto, but it has saved us on many occasions, including this one. And if ever you find yourself with an army of littles and only one person over 4 feet tall then you, too, would be thankful for a toilet stashed under the drivers' seat of your car! :)

P.S. You may also want to keep some water (that is NOT used for drinking) in order to "flush" your ghetto car toilet. Yes, moms think of these things...really, we do.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taco Meat (in bulk, without the seasoning packet)


The kids and I did some bulk grocery shopping today.  I'm not sure which is crazier, buying a total of 40 lb. of meat or going to the grocery store and Sam's Club with four small children in tow.  Either way, it was a successful and meltdown-free trip.  I'll take it!

The entire trip was spurred on by our need for ground beef.  According to the new monthly menu I've started, Tuesdays are Taco Night.  Tacos can include taco salad, actual tacos, burritos, or burrito bowls.  Tonight's variation is taco salad and we had no taco meat.  So, off to the store we went and home we came with a lot more than a couple of pounds of ground beef.

Upon arriving home I began to cook the ground beef (all 10 lb. of it) in order to have some for dinner and portion the rest to freeze for future Tuesday Taco Nights.  While I was cooking I thought, "Hey, I'll post this to the blog because everyone wants to know how to make four meals worth of taco meat in 20 minutes!"  If you didn't want to know, then you wouldn't be reading this post.  :)

So, here goes...

Taco Meat (in bulk, without the taco seasoning packet)

Ingredients
Ground beef or turkey, 5-10 lb.
Chicken bullion (or you can just use salt and pepper), to taste
Ground cumin, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
1-2 TB corn starch (or another thickener), divided
1-2 cups water

Directions
1. Brown the meat.  I recommend dividing it into 2 1/2 lb. sections.  If you're making 5 lb. use two large pans.  I used two pans and then repeated this entire process to make a total of 10 lb.
2. Add all seasonings - use only 1/2 TB corn starch and 1/2 cup water for every 2 1/2 lb. of meat.  MIx and allow to cook until the meat is well-seasoned.
3. Allow meat to cool.  Divide into labeled and dated freezer bags.  Place bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze until bags hold their shape.  Remove from the cookie sheet and stack neatly in your freezer.
4. To defrost just use your microwave's defrost setting.
5. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Snapshot: Cuppa


This is the third time the tea has been reheated this morning.  At the time of this photo it was already cold again.

Heat.
Forget.
Reheat.
Forget.
And round and round we go.

Am I the only one (besides a certain parental unit who shall remain nameless) who does this???

Snapshot: Signs

Joshua (5 1/2 years old) has become very territorial as of late.  He is reluctant to allow his sisters into his room, which is problematic since his over-sized closet stores all of the children's clothing.  Yesterday Hannah (4 1/2 years old) came to me in tears (which is not unusual for her).  "Joshua won't let me in his room to get some pants!" she screamed.

I went down the hall and found this sign on his door:


Apparently he is really serious about this "No Girls Allowed" thing...

Snapshot: Snack Time


Now that Jeremiah (7 months) is able to handle some finger foods, the kids are always sharing their snacks with him.  Can you guess what they gave him this morning?  Yes, that is Nutella on our baby's mouth.  I think he liked it because he was quite upset when I told the bigger kids to stop feeding it to him!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Us, a Large Family? Really???

And I'm not being sarcastic by that title. I mean, really, we only have four. We still fit comfortably in our MINI van. We usually have enough spaces on forms to fill in all of our children's names without having to write in the margins. I haven't forgotten their birth dates and I don't always call them by the wrong name. And, what's more important, when we are out we can all still fit into a handicap bathroom stall WITH our double stroller. All in all I'd say we're still small...or maybe mid-sized.

But apparently we don't look like an average American family, even though we feel (at least a little bit) like one. I know this from the comments and stares we get when we're out. Now, since moving to the South, I can only think of 2 or maybe 3 encounters where the comments have been rude or judgmental. And I'm beginning to choose not to be bothered by them. Why should it matter what someone else thinks of our family size? Of course I don't understand why other people (and by that I mean "perfect strangers") should have an opinion on how large or small our family should be...but that's beside the point. I am practicing giving a sincere and cheerful response to any comments I receive, whether negative or positive. And I'm choosing in advance to not be offended by comments that are less than pleasant.

So, why the ramble about our family size? Well, yesterday I had a very funny experience. The kids and I went to Target. I know...that's hilarious, isn't it? While we were there, the kids were generally very well-behaved. We walked the aisles, they held on to their places on the cart beautifully, Abby rode quietly and cheerfully in the cart, and Jeremiah took his morning nap in the carrier. A pleasant outing all in all.

So, what's the funny part? As we were walking the aisles I heard a little boy shout to his mother, "Wow! That's A LOT of kids!!!" And then his mother nearly matched his volume and enthusiasm as she said, "Yes, and look! There's even a baby there!" I guess three kids is A LOT and a baby makes the whole thing a spectacle worth pointing out to everyone in the greater Houston area.

I got a good laugh out of it...although I did try to wait and laugh when we were no longer in earshot of our observers. Truly, from the mouth of babes...

As Claude likes to say, "We're not even in double digits...yet." I'm glad to be practicing smiling and laughing now, otherwise I could be in for all kinds of unnecessary pain inflicted by generally well-intentioned (if not extremely opinionated) passersby.

Below is a picture of our gigantic brood. What do you think - average-sized or large family? I'm still voting for average. Maybe in a few more years (when that 15 passenger van is required to meet our transportation needs) we can graduate to large family status.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Follow up to Vibram Fivefingers Review

Just a follow up to yesterday's Fivefingers review, took them out for a 3 mile run outdoors in a combination of pavement and light gravel trail and it was one of the best runs ever!  The ground feel was exhilarating and the power of the toe off and ability to maintain a high cadence were simply awesome, I can agree with all those who have tried them and enjoyed them and continue to use them that they make running a joy!  Was expecting some pain in my calves and shins but praise the Lord Jesus, nothing of the sort, just a little more stiffness in my quads since I'm maintaining more of a forefoot/midfoot strike rather than allow the heel strike to come in that you can do with cushioned shoes.

So thumbs up, or rather, big toes up for the Fivefingers thus far! :)

Running Gear Impressions - Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS

So some of you know that I'm a bit of a running nerd, so Becca has given me permission to put some running gear posts!  So here we go with the first one!

As you can tell from the title of the post this has to do with one of the Vibram Fivefingers barefoot running shoe models called the Bikila LS.  This is the model that they tout as designed specifically for road running, with a little bit of extra padding in the inside.  As is quoted on the website, the insole features a, "Dri-Lex covered 3mm polyurethane insole (thickest under the ball) and a 4mm anatomical pod outsole design."  All this is designed to help disperse a little more of the impact you would experience on concrete/asphalt whilst still maintaining a very good ground feel.  Compare with your traditional running shoe which has something like 20mm of EVA foam in the midsole and some 5-10mm extra of rubber on the outsole too depending on the shoe, and you've got excellent ground feel.  In fact, I wore these around work and I was simply delighted with how much they felt almost like I was walking around at home barefoot!

For more info from the company, check out their website on the Bikila LS

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-BikilaLS-Mens.htm?activity=running

Here are my attempts at glamor shots:

Upper

The upper on the LS model (simply means the model with laces versus the original velcro strap) consists of some breathable material called "Coconut Active Carbon".  I have no idea what that is, but whatever that is it is comfortable!  The quick-pull laces make this an easy shoe to lace up although it takes some practice to splay out your toes just right when putting them on and pulling them off.  All that plus some reflective patches and some minimal TPU (toe protection unit) and you have a comfortable, flexible upper that holds your foot right in there snugly.

Another glamor shot :)



Outsole

The pod design that they mention is very visible on the outsole.  It really doesn't look or feel like much when you pick them up and put them on but those 3mm of Vibram rubber is durable.  So far I've walked around all day at work, run 3 miles on a treadmill and not even the slightest sign of a scuff mark has happened on the outsole.  I''m hoping that these will last at least 500-1000 miles before they break down.  Traction has been excellent on dry surfaces although the rubber is not as sticky as some traditional shoes that I've tried on so if you're trying to do any kind of resistance training with a weight machine like I was doing with them on, I ended up having to lower the amount of weight I was pulling on because I wasn't able to get a good firm grip on the gym floor and ended up sliding whilst trying to use the weight machine.  It definitely seems like they're going for durability rather than stickiness.

Comparison of stack heights with traditional running shoes:


Pictured here from left to right: Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS, Altra The Instinct, Brooks Ghost 5.   This and the next 2 photos are to show the difference in stack height of outsole and midsole compared to more traditional running shoes.



Compared to the Brooks Ghost 5 which has a traditional 20mm or so of EVA midsole and 12mm heel to toe drop.


Compared to the Altra The Instinct which is a fully cushioned 0mm heel to toe drop shoe.  

So you can see that there is not really much cushioning which means that running form needs to adapt and transition to running in these.  Basically that means quicker cadence (i.e. Number of steps per minute), shorter strides and a forefoot strike rather than a heel strike.  Transitioning to that running form will help you run in these.  The other alternative to learn to run in these is just to run barefoot little by little!

So my personal impressions after taking them out so far on the treadmill for 3 miles are that I can completely understand why people have made the switch.  I gave myself some big blisters earlier this week from longer runs in my traditional running shoes but I was able to and have been able to wear these around and run in these without any pain or discomfort from those blisters at all, whereas I'd be forced to hobble around in traditional shoes with any kind of blister.  They are incredibly comfortable to run in on the treadmill at least, really allows my toes to splay out and toe off and to move lightly and nimbly too rather than relying on crashing down on the cushioning to help spring off for the next step.  They are of course super light and after a while I forgot to an extent that I had them on, especially at work, I found myself looking down and wiggling my toes to make sure they were still covered!  Didn't experience any pain elsewhere from running in these on the treadmill, a little bit of soreness in my calves but other than that nothing else and am excited to take these out on the concrete to test them out in the real world!  Hopefully will update on my impressions of running in them outside!

Thanks for listening!

God Bless,
Claude for the running nerd side of the Chew family.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Maps and Things


As I mentioned in this post, I already ordered our school materials for next school year.  I know, I know...eager beaver over here didn't want to wait.  But actually, I have good reason to stay ahead of the game - if I don't I will most definitely fall behind.  And as you all know, time flies when you're having fun.  Before I know it spring will be gone and we'll be wrapping up our first official year of homeschooling.  And since we're schooling year round with plenty of little breaks scattered here and there, we pretty much run from one school year to the next with a few weeks off  in between.  Anyway...that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Besides, isn't it fun to be getting tons of packages every day?  We've been receiving a book here and a manipulative there for a few days now but this evening was the mother load.  Math, history, writing, and grammar materials arrived all in one fell swoop.

And I had a lot of fun unpacking.  That's why I'm posting.  And I want to highlight one resource in particular because I felt giddy looking through it.  (Apparently I am more of a geek than I ever suspected.)  I seriously could look at this thing all night!



This, friends, is a geography teacher/enthusiast's dream book.  I was hesitant to order it (it is by far the most expensive purchase of our school materials).  But upon my first opening I can see that this is $60 well-spent.  Not only can we use these maps until our kids are done in our homeschool, but we even have a CD-Rom to make reproduction that much easier.

As I perused maps from Ancient Egypt to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 I thought to myself, "I really should have been a geography and/or history teacher."  Then it hit me - I am a geography and history teacher.  And some days I can even stay in my comfy-they-don't-look-good-enough-for-anyone-to-see-me-in pants while I color cool maps with the little guys.  That's pretty cool!  :)

Note to Self: Please remember this mountain top when you are in the midst of nursing a baby, potty training a toddler, chasing down said toddler before she colors all over the bathroom walls, and trying to remember where in the world Sumer was.

What was/is your favorite subject in school?

 

Schedules

I love our schedule!  Yes, I really do.  I naturally enjoy order and structure, so to me a schedule is a beautiful thing.  However, I'm only now learning how to use a schedule as a tool to serve our family instead of it becoming a slave master that leaves us frazzled and frustrated.

When we had two littles, one and two years old, I ran a pretty tight ship.  Bed time was early.  Dinner time was even earlier.  We had set nap times, set play times, and set times to go for a walk outside.  I thought that I was the master scheduler.  So, when our third child was born I was not expecting the schedule fall-out that we experienced.

I couldn't quite figure it out, but very suddenly nothing was happening according to plan.  I mean, really, couldn't the kids and the new baby just take a moment to read the schedule and be informed as to when they were supposed to do certain things?  How hard is it?

As my expectations were left unmet day after day I began to despair.  And so I decided that maybe when you have a small handful of kids it's important to be flexible.  I got rid of our schedule and started going day by day...then hour by hour...and eventually minute by minute.

This change accomplished much in our household.  For one thing, it added copious amounts of stress to my day.  It also multiplied the number of decisions I had to make - what do I do now?  Should I give the kids a snack?  What's for dinner and when will I cook?  The new flexible routine also gave me a lot of opportunity to practice turning to the Lord in my stressed-out state.  This was actually a good thing, and the minute by minute dependence on Him has become the strength and joy that sustains me every day.  For this I am grateful.

However, I really could have done without two years of frustration, anxiety, and discouragement.  What I hadn't learned was that in order to be flexible I needed to have a regular, dependable routine.  One that didn't change day to day, but rather stayed the same so that I knew what was coming next.  As a side note, the kids also really enjoy knowing what to expect each day.  With a plan in place I could practice true flexibility because, really, you need something to flex in order to be flexible.

About two months ago, I embarked on reinstating a regular daily routine, and it has made a night and day difference in our home.  I am more relaxed and almost never overwhelmed (I do have my moments, but they used to be all day...every day!), and the kids are able to settle in, knowing that every day they follow the same plan.  It's beautiful!

Now, I'm sure this sounds really boring to all of you free-spirited-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.  It really isn't boring at all.  Because I am in charge of the schedule and it's here to serve our family, I can modify it to make room for out of the ordinary things, sickness, grumpy kids, you name it.  And let's be realistic...there are four kids 5 years and under in our house.  Boring does not exist here.

Our days vary even as we follow the same flow of events.  Today we got our school done early and went to the library before lunch.  On Fridays we regularly switch things up so that we have the afternoons off to play at the park with friends.  And the weekends always remain flexible - if we're home we follow the plan.  If we're out or we have company we don't worry about it.

And, as we've been through some rough weeks with colds, stomach bugs, and some pretty intense attitude challenges, I have become increasingly grateful for the schedule.  My tendency when I don't feel well or things get hard with the kiddos is to give in to feeling like I can't do it all and choosing to not do anything.  This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.  Holding to the schedule on rough days has been God's grace to me and to our children.  It truly has saved us from near catastrophe on more than one occasion.  And it has taught me that even when I feel terrible, I can still accomplish pretty the things that will keep our household running smoothly.

If you don't have a daily schedule, I encourage you to consider making one.  I have been amazed that I have a ton of free time now.  Okay, so that's a wee bit of an exaggeration.  But I actually have free time and that is amazing.  Sure, we still fall behind on things.  The days never go exactly according to the clock.  And sometimes we're pretty far from the plan.  But at least we know where we're headed and that's oh so necessary when there are four small children looking to you to know what's up next...or what's for dinner!

Our current schedule looks like this.


Don't worry, we haven't gotten it perfect, yet.  We are setting some goals for earlier bed times, reinstating naps for the girls, and (for me) getting up a bit earlier than usual.  But we're still working on it.  I like to think of each day as practicing our schedule and routines.  And every day we're a bit more stream-lined...mostly.

And now, if you'll excuse me...rest time is over and we must move on before the girls sleep all the way until dinner.  Now that would do wonders for our bed time routine!  ;)


 So, how do you manage the needs of your family?  Are you with a schedule?  Without a schedule?  Trying to remain flexible and have a plan?  Is what you do now serving your family well?  Or are you a slave to the urgent or to the schedule?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Funnies: Find Something To Do!

This is what I said to Joshua, who was chasing his sisters around the house and shooting them with some type of weapon he had imagined out of a piece of plastic food, "Find something to do!"

"Okay," Joshua said as he turned to his sisters. "Let's do a jig!"

A jig??? How does he even know what a jig is???