Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rainy Spring

Every year it happens...the glints of sun burst forth in that small window between Winter and Spring. I get very excited because...Spring is coming! In my mind, Spring equals sun. But then the rains pour, the winds blow, and I am quickly reminded that Spring, with all of it's colorful bounty, also brings the endless rain.

This last weekend brought us sunny spurts and crisp, fresh air. Brilla got to play outside with her friends in the cul-de-sac. Three girls just moved in across the way, and she's been having fun with them ever since. Because of them, she has learned to ride her bike! I was thankful, one less thing to have to teach my kids. Now if only teaching her to tie her shoes tight could come that easy...

Katie still goes potty like a pro. She even tells me when she needs to go and hasn't wet herself, except at night here and there, which is totally expected. We had an accident the other day because she thought she was done at the toilet-and nope! - something plopped on the floor. But it was quickly cleaned and really, I am in awe. I did not know potty training this girl would be so smooth. Kids have such different personalities. Now, if only I can train Reese at 14 months *Grin* You know, I have heard of parents training their kids super young, but in my mind, it seems like double-work, since you basically have to do it for them. Then later, retrain since they weren't doing it consciously on their own. I have a friend who did just this and she recommends just waiting until they are old enough to know what they are doing. I hope for Reese this is earlier than my other since she was an early walker.

Reese is such a sweetie with her chubby cheeks and legs. I love watching her toddle around. Her new things are putting her hands behind her back as she walks and pointing with her middle finger. I could probably coerce her other finger to point, but why? She'll just keep at it with the middle. She adores books now. Of course, you have to keep it short and lively. She loves to turn the pages. Her favorite are books with song. She also likes finger puppet ones.

For some crazy reason, ever since the time change, I have been exhausted. You would think I'd be the opposite, seeing the day goes faster and bed time arriving earlier. But it has wiped us all out. I find it hard to drag myself out of bed. Sleepy in the afternoon, and completely shot at bed time. Wow, even writing this makes me want a caffeine shot!

Homeschooling is going great. We have 70 some lessons left, which sat me up to realize we need to double our lessons each week in order to be done before July. Mind you, we started in late September (because our Summer sun was still out), so I knew we'd go later. But that doesn't include the extra week of Christmas vacation and our Spring break. Seeing that we have co-op on Mondays instead of regular school, amazes me that we've gotten as far as we have. I give huge kudos to Brilla for that. She is a trooper. Hard worker and quick learner. For that I am grateful. Plus, we are still having fun and I love teaching.

Brilla is reading so well. We still do phonics, because it's good to review special sounds and complete Spelling lists. But as for reading, she delves right into the books and just enjoys the whole process. I know it won't be like that with every child, so I'm enjoying this season. All my girls love books but actually learning to read is a whole different ballpark. We used Hooked on Phonics in preschool then merged with A Beka as we started grade school. Hooked on Phonics did wonders for us. It's fun, interactive and gets them going quickly. Looking forward to teaching my other two!

I better get going on this Wednesday. There is a family reading time at our local library and if we don't get enough school done on time, we can't go! It's such a fun gathering too. They sing songs, recite poems, and get three different books read to them. The theme is a new letter of the alphabet every week. All the books read will begin with a "U" today. Maybe I can get out my books and read a little, too!

Happy Wednesday, hope you get your book out!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just got home from the library. The local builders association hosted a free workshop, via the library, by Laura Leist, CPO of Eliminate Chaos, who specializes in professional organization. I took Brilla with me and she did so well! She sat through the whole thing, doodling with her usual notebook and pen :)

I think I mentioned before that a while back, I wanted to really dig in and organize my home. I'm not a naturally organized person. I'm an artsy procrastinator. I told my husband, "I need to take some college classes on organization or something". He said,"Why don't you use the library and study some professional books instead?" Wouldn't you know, the first (and only) book I have ever used was Eliminate Chaos, by Laura Leist. After reading this, you really don't need another book or course. It's straightforward and doable. So it was amazing to hear/see her in person at this workshop!

Basically, there are 10 Steps to Eliminate Chaos at home:

1) Dedicate Time. Basically, organizing your space is something one is always "going to get to" or something "I don't have time for". She emphasized that we make time for the priorities in our life. If we don't have time for it, it isn't important to us. So, you need to make your organization time an unbreakable appointment on the calender. This is what I did! You just have to tell people you'll have to pass up that play date or lunch, because you have another appointment.

2) Gather supplies. These are basic supplies. Like three sacks that say 'Keep', 'Give Away', 'Throw Away'. That kind of thing. Shopping for cute storage, etc, comes later!

3) Establish a staging area. In my home, space is at a minimum, so I make sure I have enough room to lay out everything. I also make my projects small, so that it can be finished quickly, not leaving time for my small ones to pick up things and run off with them!

4) Sort. Get the stuff out that you want to organize. This isn't a time to actually organize. If you right away spot an item that needs to be tossed, that's fine.

5) Purge. Trash bag time! This is my favorite part. To some, it is a tear-filled time. It depends on what stage of life you are in, or if you are sentimental. I happen to be very sentimental, but I have grown to be more objective. Now I look forward to throwing out stuff!

6) Group "like" items together

7) Examine your space. Take measurements! Know ahead of time what you need to store your items, so you can approach the next step with purpose. Armed and ready for battle.

8) Shop. This is the fun part! Remember to bring sketches, pictures, colors, measurements, and measuring tape. Whatever you need to buy the right items you need. A few stores she recommended were The Container Store, Storables, IKEA, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

9) Install it. This is the part that MUST happen, or all the other steps are moot. Even if the installation involves a screwdriver and some elbow grease...make it happen!

10) Maintain. She also mentioned that maintenance looks different for everyone. Sometimes after having made the hard decision to get rid of stuff, people don't actually take their items to the donation center. She suggested placing them in your car, so while you're out and about, you can take care of it. Don't let it sit around your house or garage or it may very well grow feet and walk back into your space.

A few highlighted things:

"Clutter is post-poned decisions".

It looks nice to have all similar hangers. She prefers wooden because she has a roomy closet. I, on the other hand do not, so I like the nice, simple plastic hangers.

Some survey found that people have up to 40% more space if they simply organize. (Yes, it would still help to purge, but organization is a good start!)

Last thing, she also emphasized shopping, in general, with a purpose in mind. Do I need this or that? Do I have room for those cute shoes? Do I have a place for that baking tool? Sometimes we just have too much stuff. It's not about the stuff. It's about memories and living life simply.

I highly recommend going out and getting your hands on this book or just ordering it on Amazon! It will change your life.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

As I write this, it is a Sunday after noon in the Pacific Northwest. It is truly a beauteous day. The sun is shining and the air is crisp. The sad side of the tale is that I am home from church because my baby has a terrible cold/fever/cough. She is miserable, which is quite the opposite of her usual personality. Baby does not want to play, eat or dance. Times like these make me thankful for the days she is healthy and smiling with all eight teeth showing!

Our Bible study (with some of the women from church) has ended. We were studying Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. It is one of the few books that is Biblically sound, while at the same time down to earth, exciting me to apply my knowledge. Concurrently, we studied John MacArthur's Pillars of Christian Character sermons. I feel like all the lessons I've learned "live on" in my heart and mind. Scripture floods my spirit every day. The topics we studied were so closely related to what I go through as a wife and mom of young children. It has been quite the adventure to do Bible study on my own every morning, as I have spent the last 12 years in Bible Study Fellowship.

But it has been AMAZING. God has been teaching me flexibility. It doesn't work for me to attend BSF this year because my eldest is too old for the preschool program and my husband doesn't have an evening available to watch the kids while I go. So...I don't have the daily discipline of questions to fill out. But I'm okay with that. I challenge myself with my own questions and use study aids to get a deeper, fuller meaning of what His Words plus context are saying.  I also hope to complete a 1 Corinthians Navigator study I started last year. On Wednesdays, my husband is a leader at AWANA, which my two oldest attend! Our church gives deep teaching in between all the verse learning, so it's wonderful for the children. I also enjoy working with my daughter on her verses. In fact, combined with her God-focused home school, I have so many verses to meditate on right now! But more than that, I am having fun living out Titus 2:1-5! Making my home, my kids, my marriage a priority.

I was really reading a lot (other than the Bible) because I had so much down time with Reese nursing. Now, I am constantly chasing after her since she learned how to walk. I will pick up a Beverly Lewis or Julie Klassen or crochet pattern any day though. Any book for that matter. I also read lots of Facebook and links on Pinterest. Does that count?

I know a couple posts ago I mentioned all the organization projects I had planned. I did finish organizing the kitchen. But that's all! Utter fail! These plans came before Reese grew toddling legs! Now my only goal is to finish something before she gets into the toilet or downs a whole crayon. So I do my organization in spurts. And I prioritize.

I am so much like a puppy in that I have a short attention span. I get interested in one thing, before quickly getting distracted by another. This is the curse of the creative person (and I wonder where my daughter got her streak!) And probably the story of every mom-of-young-children's life.

I'm currently crocheting two projects. I have a very pretty scarf in the works, as well as a baby blanket for a beautiful expectant mama at church. I love crocheting simple, elegant patterns. Not too fufu. Like I said, my attention span is limited! While I crochet (or fold laundry), I absolutely LOVE to watch shows. My favorite right now are Downton Abbey Season 2 or Market Warriors. I also recently watched Call the Midwife, which was excellent. Don't get me wrong. I really don't have oodles of hours to spare for television and crochet. However...I have recently realized I am a much happier mama as I've followed our new schedule which includes some rest time before I start on my second shift (dinner prep, clean-up, bed time). It has worked wonders!

This last Thursday, the girls and I had a Target outing, a big deal to us. We love this store. They are probably tired of our noise and faces. Anyway, our primary purpose was to purchase big girl undies for Katie (who is still very little at nearly 3) and a huge selection of treats. All in preparation for potty training! She was SO pumped, Brilla was excited to help her choose, and Reese, well, she just kept grunting because she wanted to stuff her face with all the food she kept seeing. We also bought some steals for our craft stash. Finally, our time ended at the book department. My girls drink books like their mom!

On Friday, the potty adventure began. It resulted in only one accident the whole day (we wore diapers second half of the day). And no pee or poo in the potty whatsoever. But I was okay with that. I just wanted to introduce her to staying dry and sitting on the toilet. I am super lucky in that she doesn't want to sit on her toddler potty, but likes to climb on the big toilet (with the insert on)! No extra cleanup! Saturday was a huge success. A whole day dedicated to the goal. Daddy was here to help. We had a couple accidents (one involving poo, yuck!!) but she was able to get rewards for both staying dry AND going in the potty!! Excitement all around. Even my oldest would cheer :) Grandparents got called to celebrate too. Not that we think our children learning to poop and pee is the greatest news on the whole planet. But I read somewhere that's it's an extreme boost for your child's confidence to do so. Well, the advice is correct!

So, today, after the family gets home, we will continue the potty saga. I will spare you further details of this journey, however :)