Saturday, June 29, 2013

what we do in the summertime

I love having my kids all home! But I always forget that when my big kids are here all day every day they expect to have lots of things to do. The routine that has become so commonplace with me and the little kids doesn't suffice for them, as it shouldn't. So it takes a little bit of planning.

My kids have jobs every single day, every day of the year. But they have more jobs in the summer because they are home more and contribute to the messes more. We have a system that works really well. Every Sunday night I write their jobs for each day on a white board. For some reason, if they see it up there that far in advance and know what is coming it doesn't seem daunting. As the week goes on I sometimes add things or move them around. But as long as it is in their column, it gets done. I have learned that the hard way.

These jobs are just what they do as contributing members of the family. They don't get paid. They include:
*Cleaning the bathroom.
*Taking the garbage out.
*Sorting, folding, and "delivering" the laundry.
*Loading and unloading the dishwasher.
*Cleaning their rooms and making beds.
*Watering the garden.
*Taking the garbage bins to the street/returning them to the side of the house.
*Emptying the recyclable items from the bin inside to the bin outside.
*Reading 30 minutes a day (they like this, but putting it down as a "job" makes them enjoy "jobs" a little more).
*Reading to Tanner. 2 books each, per day. This one is my favorite. Tanner's too.
*Cleaning the living room.
*Picking up the toy room.

When they want to earn money I am happy to give them other work:
*Cleaning the garage
*Vacuuming/cleaning out the car
*"Baby-sitting" Sadie
*Helping cook
*Other yard work
*Anything else I can think of

My kids have to get most of these things done before we play. Sometimes that isn't possible if the laundry isn't cycled through yet, etc., but so far it has worked really well.  They almost never whine about jobs. No negotiating, because it is on the whiteboard.
So what do we do for fun?
We go swimming, we go to the beach, we go on bike rides and go to the park, and new this year is our season passes to the local amusement park. It's only 20 minutes away, we got a steal of a deal, and we have already been 7 times. There is even a water park. I like it because with Sadie I can't be there too long, but going for 3 hours is always enough (short lines) and we don't have to stay long to "get our money's worth." And, we never spend any money there - the only expense is the gas. And lots of our friends have passes too - which is always more fun.

It's working out really well so far - a week and a half in. I must say that seeing both kids reading well beyond their 30 required minutes every day makes me smile - when I was a kid I always had my nose in a book. Thank goodness for libraries!!

We love summer!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

one hour

I have one hour left until I get my kids home for 10 weeks. Hooray. And while I didn't get everything done that I wanted to before that final bell, I got most of it done.

Here is proof.

My cute baby sitting on top of these suitcases that were super ugly, and are now are quite cute. Or maybe it's the person that makes them cute?

Not bad for free, right? (suitcases, not the baby.)

Maybe it will be a blessing, come the end of August, that Sadie is a horrible sleeper. Because she is so inconsistent and has no schedule, it is easy to make the decision to forego her naps and cater to the big kids and their fun desires. I shouldn't call that decision easy...just easier. Sigh.

Remember how we took pictures like this last year? On the first day of school we do pictures in front of the door, and on the last day we jump and scream and yell with excitement...also in front of the door. Spencer wanted to "jump" off the porch again with the kids. This year he got a little more air...after I laughed at him for only jumping a few inches at first.

I love all the facial expressions. And we really DO feel like this. Excited! (White men CAN jump.)

Next year I will be in some.... and Tanner and Sadie won't be crying. Actually, they probably will.

Here we go!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

at home

I have noticed, particularly this week, just how much my attitude and actions affect and even control the feel inside our home. Having 4 kids isn't easy, though I realize I am lucky in a lot of ways. Most nights I do dinner/baths/homework/bedtime on my own, which sometimes frazzles me.

Monday night was crazy. It is a good sign that I don't remember why exactly it was crazy, but I just remember wanting to pass out once everyone was asleep. I was grumpy for some reason and was probably mumbling about how it is always "busy season" (!!). The kids were stressed and struggling, and it was because of me and my attitude. It is just so easy to forget how impressionable children are, especially the younger they are. Thankfully I had Emma who is always willing to jump right in, and she read to Tanner and got him to bed while I handled Sadie. (Tyler is always a perfect go-to-bed kid.)

I was on edge the whole night. Spencer got home, was stressed about work, and we were both on edge. Sadie was up twice that night (every night actually), which is a constant reminder of what a horrible sleeper she continues to be. While I was up with her the 2nd time (4 a.m.-ish) I was zombied out on the couch waiting for her to be done eating so I could go back to bed. As I looked out the big window in the living room, I saw a tiny sliver of the moon appearing above the tree line. It was tiny but was so bright, like it was on fire. I watched it slowly rise until it was out of sight for me, but as it rose it would get bright and then dim, and then bright again. I have no idea if this is common, or what made that happen, but I was glad I was there to see it and to have that uninterrupted time to watch the beautiful moon for those 20 minutes. It took my mind off the exhaustion.

Then yesterday we were at baseball. Sometimes it feels like we are always at baseball. It was Tyler's last game, no one was playing well, Sadie was sick with a cold and was grumpy, and I just wanted to go home. A lady with a big gorgeous dog walked by and I saw Sadie's head whip up to look. She saw the dog, and got excited. This was the first time she truly noticed an animal. And while I don't really like dogs, I am so glad I got to see that excitement on her face.

I am just so thankful for those little moments when all the hard craziness is suddenly so worth it. Last week we were driving and Spencer said, "In 18 months we will be DONE with the baby thing forever." I have thought about that a lot this last week. It will be a new stage of life for us. It is hard to say and truly makes my heart so sad, but I am also excited for what is next as well.

I had 15 minutes to myself today when big kids were at school and little kids were asleep. I read Elder Scott's talk from conference, For Peace at Home. It was just what I needed. My favorite part:

Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there.

So I guess this post is all a little random, but I want to remember to cherish those sweet and special little moments (like the gorgeous sparkling moon and Sadie's new discoveries), but also remember just how much I can influence and guide the level of happiness in my home. I want that spirit of assurance. Way more than we have it now.

And...13 days until school is out. Can't wait.