Friday, June 24, 2016

Getting Ready for Baby

With only a few days to go before my due date, we're officially on baby watch around here.  I'm trying to finish up some little things I want to get done (grocery shopping, etc.), but for the most part I've made it through my long, nesting to-do list.  My garden has been planted, I got the windows and curtains washed, the tub scrubbed, and a couple of rooms painted.  I have food in the freezer, ready to go.  The Moses basket is in place and little newborn clothes are in the drawer.


There has been a theme around here of starting projects and almost finishing them, but not quite, so a big portion of my list was working through those things.  Our bathroom trim, which has been unfinished for over two years because we weren't quite sure what to do with it, is finally done, which makes me so happy!  We had to do a bit of toilet fixing, for the third time, and we're hoping this time's the charm.



I also finally finished painting the trim in the living room.  I was hoping to also finish the trim around the front door we put in a year ago, but we weren't able to get to that one.  I still have hopes of finishing it before winter, but we'll see!  :)

Seth built a new front porch last summer, and it was done except for one final coat of paint that we didn't get to before the weather got rainy, so I finished that up.



The last big project were working on is a play set for the kids.  We've talked about doing this for a long time, but we were never sure if we wanted to do it because we also keep talking about moving.  But since we haven't moved, and since we don't have anything on the horizon, this seemed like a good time to do it.  With a brand new baby, we're planning a quiet, stay-home summer, so having something new and exciting in the backyard will be a good thing for everyone.  We're hoping Seth will be able to finish it up in the next few days.


So, we're ready to meet this new little person, and we can't wait to see who it is!  :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What's Been Happening Lately, Part 3: Daily Routines and Homeschooling

Even though I've known this truth forever, I am constantly amazed at the effect a good routine can have on things actually happening.  I've made a few tweaks to our daily routine recently that have just fit, and as a result, our days have gone smoother while also accomplishing my goals. 


One such example is our outside time.  I know I've mentioned before my struggle to get outside everyday.  Some seasons, like summer, lend themselves more naturally to this, and it's not a problem to get outside everyday.  But in the middle of winter, it feels like hard work to get outside, so it often doesn't happen.  But I just recently borrowed an idea from my preschool teaching days and decided to try going outside right after lunch each day.  And this has fit our routine perfectly.  It's already a transition time, which somehow means that it doesn't take nearly as much effort to actually get outside.  Most days the kids take their scooters out to the road, and we spend 20-30 minutes there, but if I need to, I can also send everyone to the backyard while I finish cleaning the kitchen up.  This little tweak has been a game changer for us right now.


The other routine change I made was with our "school" time.  I finally had to admit that my plan of doing our "school" time in the afternoon just wasn't working.  I had been pretty intentional in choosing that time, but for various reasons, most days it wasn't happening.  Given my unschooling tendencies, it wasn't that big of a deal, really, but I did want to make sure we were working on a few things regularly.  Part of me thought that if I just disciplined myself better, and kept trying, I could make it work, but I knew that it ultimately came down to making the routine work for us.  So, I've moved our school time to the morning, which is definitely my more disciplined, productive time of day.  This does make the morning a bit busier, but it also means that we're actually doing it on a regular basis.

Speaking of homeschooling, I wanted to give a little update on the resources we chose to use this year.  Thankfully, everything has been wonderful!  We love the Story of the World history, and we're currently on our second listen-through.  The kids usually listen to a chapter while I get lunch ready, which works really well.  


We have loved Life of Fred as well.  I really appreciate the relaxed approach to math, and the kids enjoy it.  Another resource we found for math is Bedtime Math.  We borrowed the first book from the library and have been using it during our Morning Time.  The kids LOVE this.  The author's goal is to make math as much fun and as much a part of everyday life as a bedtime story, which fits my philosophy exactly, and it has been just that for us.  The kids say this is their favorite part of morning time, and even Toby asks for a turn with a question.  After we finished the library book, I promptly purchased all three books, which is high praise!  The books include questions for a few different age groups, but because I have so many kids so close together, I have had to make up some of my own questions, too, but having some ideas to go on already has made that pretty easy.  We just started book 2, which is also great, though the questions so far seem easier.  Anyway, we highly recommend these books!



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What's Been Happening Lately, Part 2


As I've been thinking about the last few months, trying to decide what to put on my blog, I've been realizing that there's been a lot of growing going on in our house recently.  Physically, of course, as everyone is getting bigger.  Benjamin turned 7 in November, lost his first tooth a few months ago, and has become quite a good reader.  Joanna turned 6 last month, is learning to read, was the first child to learn to tie shoes, and has become really detailed in her drawings.  After both of them had their birthdays, Ezra is eagerly waiting for his, in June, when he will turn 5.  He just learned to write his name.  Toby practically potty-trained himself last fall, catching on so quickly that I really felt like I hardly had to do anything.  He's finally started talking as well, and has more words all the time.  Simon, of course is growing constantly.  He just started walking, following our family's schedule of walking at 13 months.  He still loves to get into things, but he's learning to listen to Mommy's "no"!  :) He loves to go outside.

Our food consumption has really gone up in the last several months, so much that I was feeling like I was spending almost all of my time in the kitchen.  In an attempt to simplify a bit, I decided to eliminate our morning snack time.  I wasn't sure it was possible, but it actually has gone surprisingly well!  We eat a little more at breakfast, and I adjusted our schedule to allow for an earlier lunch, and it's working great!  I now am making less food, and spending less time cleaning the kitchen, so I feel like this simple change has made a noticeable difference.

Not only has there been a lot of physical growth in the family, but I feel like there has been a noticeable shift in our family dynamics.  Instead of having five little kids, there are two different groups now: big kids and little kids.  That seems obvious when I say it, but it's really only been in the last few months that I've noticed it being true for us.  Benjamin, all of a sudden, has been declaring himself too big for things, like certain movies and books.  Even though the four (or 5) kids still frequently play all together, more and more I've noticed them playing in groups, older and younger.  Ezra is kind of the wild card, switching between groups, depending on the activity.  Our bedtime story time has changed, and instead of reading picture books with everyone, Seth has been reading a chapter book with the older two, while I read picture books with the three younger boys.  Last fall Seth and I felt like it would be good for the older kids to have some kind of outside activity they were doing, so every week the older three kids go to an AWANA group and Seth and I have just the two little boys.  The older three all have regular chores they do around the house, and they are a really big help now with the work.  I'm finding myself frequently talking about the "little boys".

I feel like it was interesting for me to make this realization.  I'm not sure I totally like this shift; some changes have made me a little sad, and I'm having to get used to it.  I know this is our new normal, and the trajectory will probably just continue!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What's Been Happening Lately, Part One

I've wanted to post here more often than I have lately, but my time and energy has simply gone to other things.  So, a little update of sorts is in order!  :)  First up, our biggest recent news:

 


Baby #6!!!  We are so very excited to meet this new little person around the end of June!  Joanna, of course, is hoping for a sister.  :)
We now have the oh-so-fun task of purchasing a new car ahead of us, since we've outgrown our minivan.  Hello big family van!  We are very sad to have to say goodbye to our beloved MPV.  It has treated us well.  :(
My one disappointment this time around has been our decision to go with a hospital birth.  We made that decision based on some complications with previous births, and while I have peace with that, we really miss our familiar midwives and birth center!  It was so much more family friendly, especially for appointments and such!  My consolations are that I'm so much more prepared this time around than I was the last time I gave birth in a hospital (with Benjamin!), and that I will still have a midwife, not an OB.  So it will all be fine, and at least we won't have to worry about needing a hospital transfer.
Anyway, we're down to just over three months, which will fly by, of course!  And we are all so excited!!!  :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Simon's First Birthday




Simon's one today!  He is such a joy and delight to us!  He is by far our busiest baby, which while entertaining, is a challenge, too.  He loves to get into the kitchen cupboards, which I'm trying to discourage!  He has an adorable uneven smile, with two teeth on the bottom, and just one on the top.  He loves to dance to music, and can crawl quite quickly, particularly when he's trying to get into something he's not supposed to have!  :) He's not walking yet, but has just started standing on his own, so it's coming!  He loves his big siblings, and when he's up before them in the morning, he will crawl to the bedroom, looking for them.  He is my heaviest baby, and he loves to eat!  He will eat pretty much anything, and plenty of it!  We love him so much!  Happy birthday Simon Henry!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Merry Christmas!

This fall and summer were so busy, with camping trips and house projects, and just, life, that I'm not really sure where the time went.  I'm hoping to get back on here after Christmas and do some updates, but for now our days are filled with Christmasy things, so that will have to wait.  In the meantime, here's hoping you have a merry, merry Christmas!  =)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Green & Simple Living, Part 6

This is the handout that I passed out at my talk, with recipes to try and resources to check out...

“Have nothing in your houses that you do know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” - William Morris

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  - Annie Dillard


Questions to ask yourself:
What does simple living mean to you?  
What is important to you?  
How do you want to spend your life, and how can you structure your days to reflect that?
What can you eliminate from your life to have more resources (time, money, energy) to focus on what is truly important to you?

Recipes:

Deodorant
6 Tbsp. softened coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Combine baking soda and arrowroot powder, then mix in coconut oil, combining well.  Scoop into a small jar for storage.  Use your fingers to apply a small amount to armpits.  During hot weather, deodorant may need to be stored in the fridge to avoid the coconut oil liquifying.

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 1/2 tsp. dish liquid
3 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups water

Combine in a spray bottle.

The Best Stain Remover
1 part dish soap
2 parts hydrogen peroxide

Combine in a bottle and shake to mix.  Pour directly on stain as soon as possible and let sit for a bit before washing.




Resources:

www.ewg.org (Dirty Dozen list, Skin Deep cosmetic rating database)

Simple and Green Living Blogs
www.smallnotebook.org

Books:
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
A Guide to Green Housekeeping by Christina Strutt
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time by Stephanie Langford (available at www.keeperofthehome.org)
The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn