My Blog Adventure!

Welcome to my blog! It's high time this 46 year old ventures into blog world and joins the ranks of you intriguing bloggers. First off, you should know I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I love His Creation, His Word, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His being the Savior of my life. He is my reason for living! After the Lord, my next love in life is my outdoor-lovin', prankster pullin', hard workin' man I've called my husband for 22 years and counting. My 3 sons - to whom this blog is dedicated - have the next piece of my heart, and they fill my world with laughter, love, and laundry. I am calling this MY BLOG ADVENTURE... so hop into blog world with me... let's get to encouraging one another... this could be fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Flexible Summer Routine

Our dc are getting older, and with that maturity comes some ability to plan their days.  I could see somewhere between having things all planned out and having no plan it all would be the perfect summer routine for us.  First, I tried a schedule that was pretty well... scheduled.  It had open times within it, but when we tried it, I could see it was just not flexible enough.  Here is the schedule we tried first...

This kind of schedule worked great the previous years, but now that the boys are older, it's too regimented.

So, I took a different approach.  There were things I knew I wanted in their day, and then there were things I wanted them to be able to decide when and how long to do.  I got a folder, some velcro, and halved some index cards.

The things I wanted them to have in their day for sure I put on index cards first, and if I wanted them to be done a certain time, I wrote that on the card too.  Some things that fell into this category were a 45 minute playtime for each of the olders with our toddler (keeping this up in the summer sure helps the school year go well), life skills time (a time I'm working on training the boys in new chores and life skills for the next school year), a video for Emmett so the olders can have time just the 2 of them, an audio book time,  outdoor and indoor playtime, and a time to encourage others.  I also wanted the boys to rotate through some different things during their playtime with our toddler, like puzzles, lakeshore games, coloring, educational computer, playdough, books on tape, etc. So, I put these on smaller strips of paper too.  I put velcro on the back of each card and on the inside of the folder.  I stapled a ziplock back to the other side of the folder with "DONE" written above it.  

Each day, the boys get to choose an order for their day.  It has already been such a good learning experience!  They are learning to manage their time and work together.  We have figured out a few things.  First, Wyatt likes to tell everyone what to do - he's the oldest, and used to being in charge, so we had to have a talk about how everyone gets input in this.  Second, Emmett just wants to play with either Wyatt or Riley first.  Third, Riley just wants to play computer with Wyatt first.  So, everyone compromised except for Emmett, as he's the youngest.  They do a playtime with Emmett first.  Computer for Wyatt and Riley is second.  Wyatt pretty much picks the rest of the order of the day, and everyone is so happy!  

I just thought I'd share this in case it helps someone else with balancing summer and some sort of a routine!
In Christ,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Organization: Homeschool Materials

Books, art supplies, paper, guides - there can be a lot of things to organize when it comes to homeschooling.  I finally have found a great way to go about organizing all of this stuff.  First, having all the materials in one large cabinet gives a one stop place for dc to gather everything at once, which helps eliminate wasted time within the day.  Second, having it right near where dc are homeschooling helps them be able to quickly get their things, and helps eliminate the dawdling that goes along with gathering things from different parts of the house where distractions can get dc off track.  Third, having doors is a must, as all these supplies just really do tend to look pretty messy pretty easily.  Fourth, if you need a copier for homeschooling, having it within the big cabinet is another real plus.  Fifth, if you use a computer for homeschooling, having a cabinet with a slideout place for a computer really saves space and is easy to use, as dc can just open the cabinet, slide out the computer, and pull up some chairs to use it.  

Lower sections of the cabinet provide great space for things little ones can grab out on their own and play with.  Higher sections provide good places for less used materials.  It is nice if the art supplies can be fairly mobile (as I mentioned in another post).  It is also nice if each child can have his/her own tub for school with just the necessary books for the day to pull out and use, as this also is quite mobile.  

I have finally been able to get a cabinet that is made of real wood and matches our other cabinets, but we used inexpensive particle board cabinets before this, and those worked well too, provided they were anchored to the wall for safety reasons.

NOW, doesn't this look better again!

I hope this helps someone else with their homeschooling supplies to organize!
In Christ, 

Organization: Taming the Toy Mess

Three boys have a lot of toys.  I bet your dc do too!  We have one tiny room that we used to use as a babyroom but have now converted to a playroom.  We made one wall, from floor to ceiling, a toyshelf wall.  This kept the floor space open for them to play in, and it also kept all the toys in one place.  

I just have to say - canvas cubes are amazing!  Because they are flexible and open at the top, they can fit SO MANY MORE toys in them.  All of the toys in this picture that are housed on one wall of canvas cubes and cupboards used to be in SEVEN separate bookshelves filled with plastic totes in our basement.  That's right, SEVEN!  We had Amazing Space come out and do this wall for us, but I think my dh could have easily done it if he'd seen how they do it.  If you have a handyman in the family or as a friend, I think this would be pretty easy to do.

We put a stepstool for the highest shelves in the playroom, and we put the older boys' toys on the top.  Only my oldest ds may use the stepstool.  We also left the shelving system open on the bottom, as we had an outlet we wanted to keep exposed and available for use.  

I bought the canvas cubes at Target.  I actually chose just 2 colors (red and blue), and bought one of each size I could find.  I used the different sized canvas cubes to measure how many of each I'd need by dumping in the toys from the plastic totes.  Then, I knew how many of each canvas cube to buy, and I knew how many shelves to make and how wide to make them.  I made a pile of the big things that wouldn't fit in cubes, and made two sections of shelves with doors to house those.  

I cut plastic nametag badges (from Office Max) in half and printed off the names of the toys on white cardstock.  I stuck the cardstock rectangles in the plastic nametag badges, and velcroed them to the front of each canvas cube.  

I liked this so well, that I did this with another unused, wasted space - a walkway to our attic stairs.  Here are some pictures of that area:

You can see that things look much neater behind closed doors!  I hope this can help someone else tame their toy mess!  

In Christ,