Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I think I can, I think I can..

Day three and we're still going strong! I admit it, the chore chart is for me more than for anyone. I need to see what needs to be done. I need all the little boxes filled in. I need accountability. And it's working! At least it's working for the big stuff. I've done all my morning chores for three days now, I've kept the laundry at a manageable level (apparently that means two loads a day, every day), and I've had the kitchen completely clean each night before I go to bed. There are really only a few more things to tighten the leads on and I will be extremely happy (and PROUD) of myself. Yeah me!

And when I've kept up on the things that I need to do, it's much easier for me to enforce The Law on the other members of this house. I always felt a huge pang of guilt telling the kids to clean and do x and y when I knew I wasn't doing everything I should. Granted I was still doing a ton, but when I was falling short of my own expectations it was very hard to expect anyone else to come close either. Now I can say, "Have you made your bed yet?" and feel good knowing that the answer is yes for me too.

So today everyone was done with their morning chores and into their schoolwork by 11:30 - and that's even with the respective morning veg outs in front of Bakugan and Facebook. Cassia started out with reading Green Eggs and Ham in a closet. She said the rest of the house was too loud, lol. I had her read that out loud to us yesterday and I guess she really enjoyed it. She was very proud that she read it this time completely in her head. Greyson was playing around on Starfall. He loves the stories on there but any time I suggest that he "do school" or even look at a book that wasn't his idea, he completely shuts down. He was looking at animal pictures online once and so I went and grabbed a couple of our kid's animal encyclopedias thinking that he would love browsing the pictures in those too. Well, he got so offended (?) at my suggestion that he wouldn't even continue looking at the pictures online. He huffed off and spent the next hour in a bad mood. Now I just let him explore things as he sees fit with NO intervention. Kids are so, um, challenging sometimes!

Next C&C each did one math exercise each. Cassia started another (because she got it in her head that if she does as many as she can each day while Cameron only does one, she might pass him up soon, lol) but only got a couple problems into it before she got distracted by Greyson playing on Starfall. We also read a couple chapters from The Phantom Tollbooth (they finally got to Digitopolis!) and a chapter of history. We read about Mohammad and the beginning of Islam. I learned a lot in that chapter that I hadn't known. Too bad the library is closed until next week because I'd like to get a couple more books on it before that spark of new interest has waned.

Now everyone is relaxing. Cameron is playing games on my iPhone. Greyson is watching vintage Porky Pig cartoons. Cassia is coloring fairies and singing "Deck the Halls" super, super loudly, lol. Linus is exploring and I am catching up on blogs. Now it is time to move on to my afternoon chores. Maybe today will be the day when I can actually check off every box. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So far, so good!

Well, I did it. I revived the old chore chart and added a section for Dinner time. Cameron helps with dinner Mondays and Thursdays and with the dishes Tuesdays and Fridays; Cassia helps with dinner Tuesdays and Fridays and with the dishes Wednesdays and Saturdays; Greyson helps with dinner Wednesdays and Saturdays and with the dishes Mondays and Thursdays; and Sunday anybody is free to help with anything (or I also reserve the right to ban everyone from helping if I so desire). So far, Cassia has been the most enthusiastic chef, never leaving my side and constantly asking "What can I do now?" and Greyson has been the most enthusiastic dishwasher. He was eager to begin, a quick learner when it came to rinsing advice, and very, very hard to get away from the sink when we were done. Cameron was a good sous chef but would do one thing, leave, and then wait to be called back. The jury is still out on his dishwashing skills. I suggested that he get a head start on his job by putting the prep dishes in the dishwasher (which I had already gone ahead and rinsed, by the way) and he just gave me that "Do I have to?" look and disappeared. That's pretty much par for the course with his attitude in general when I ask him to do anything. I'm willing to bet that's just pretty typical 8-yr old though. What he needs to learn is that he can't just slink away. He has to do it. He is starting to get the message, I think.

The rest of the chart is going well too. Cassia is a dynamo and had almost all of her morning chores done before 9am. WTG, Cassie! Cameron has been doing the bare minimum and pretty much only when he's forced to. Greyson is avoiding the whole concept and going with the view that if he doesn't acknowledge it, it doesn't exist. He's three, so I'll let that one work for now.

Schoolwork is on the chart too and I really like having it down on paper so I can say, "See, it has to be done!" Math is always first and foremost and Cassia has been great lately with forging ahead and doing two or three exercises at a time. Cameron does one, or two if they're really short. A month or so ago, things were much different. I couldn't even get Cassia to finish a page without her dissolving into frustrated hysterics. It's strange, she gets these nervous tics - noises, stutters, and fidgets - and she wasn't doing them at all then but she was getting ultra frustrated ALL the time. Now she's recently started the tics up again but she has more focus and determination in what she does. If I had to pick between the two, I'd definitely take the tics over the hysterics.

Most of the rest of our schoolwork comes from 4-H lately. We try read history and science a few times a week, but it's really hard to find time when it's calm enough (Greyson and Linus) to sit down and focus. I have high hopes that we will be finding more time soon though. One of our 4-H Projects is a book club. The book for January is The Phantom Tollbooth and we've been having a great time reading that. I really enjoy the wordplay and Cameron, especially, thinks it's hilarious. We had a project meeting today for the Money Project. The kids learned about goods and services and where to find those things in the neighborhood, as well as how to lead people to them using a map.

OK, I'm sure I had something more eloquent to say in there somewhere but my thought process got interrupted and now the house is filled with the screams of one who is not very happy with his new molars that are coming in. Linus barely slept at all last night and he's been screaming a LOT today too. I really hope he decides to sleep tonight....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This is the post...

This is the post where I say, "My New Year's Resolution this year is to blog more regularly." LOL. Yeah, ok. I've said that about dozen times this year, at least. But honestly, my New Year's Resolution is to make my computer-time quality time and not just a means of wasting time. And for me, that means blogging. Less Facebooking, more blogging. Less digging for gossip, more reading all those interesting newsletters that sit in my inbox unread because I can never find the time. (And yet I can find the time to play endless games of Scrabble rip-offs and build up an imaginary zoo online.) More time doing the stuff that expands my mind and opens my heart and less time numbing my mind. More time doing stuff (or learning about stuff) that I can share with the kids and less time looking for a means to escape them.

Yes, I admit it. I use the computer to escape the noise and the chaos of this house. But guess what? They just get louder and more chaotic in response. My New Year's Resolution is to engage and take back the joy in my life. It's been a busy and stressful year. I've been yelling and snapping too much and playing too little. I always feel like I'm behind on everything and never have time for the fun stuff because the not-fun stuff is always in the way. So again, I say, it's time to engage and take back the joy in my life. Just DO the crap that I've been avoiding and then I will have time for the fun stuff. And cut down on the evening tv. What a waste of time.

One of Cassia's Christmas presents was a bunch of Mom-made mixes for her Easy Bake Oven. I found recipes online and bagged up single serving baggies of several different treats for her to make (pizza dough, pie crust, cookies, brownies, tea cakes). Then I took material from some recently outgrown clothing and sewed them into little drawstring bags to keep the different mixes in. Finally, I tied laminated recipe cards to the drawstrings and Voila! Hours of fun for only pennies. But the best part of this project is that I realized how wonderfully relaxing it is to spend the evening sewing instead of vegetating in front of the tv. I've been wanting to start quilting for quite a while now - even bought some supplies - but didn't realistically think I'd ever get to it with all the little ones around and "so little" time. I suddenly found a whole bunch of time! And Linus was just enthralled with watching me sew. He didn't get in the way at all and just sat there all wide-eyed making cute little sewing machine noises, lol.

Another thing I've learned in the last couple weeks is that rather than nurturing the kids' curiosity, I've been inadvertently squashing it because I've felt so overwhelmed and behind. They're always asking to help make dinner, something I think is immensely important, and I keep pushing them away. Greyson especially. He's so eager. But he's three so his help is usually just more work for me. He said to me the other day, "Mommy, how come you NEVER let anyone help you make dinner?" And he was so sad and frustrated when he said it too. It really broke my heart and I realized that they are always asking to help and I'm always telling them no. No more.

I want to make up a Helping Schedule. Each child (of able age) will have one night to help cook, one night to help do dishes after dinner, and one night off. I think that they will have a lot of fun helping to cook and will also, hopefully, learn that part of cooking is cleaning. I fear that I've slacked so badly in teaching them to clean. It's something that I had to learn as an adult (and am still learning), so it's hard for me to make them do something that I never had to do. But I also know that it was a huge detriment to me and I'm hoping that they will avoid that fate.

I'm feeling that I also need to make a Chore Chart of some sort but those haven't had much success around here. The one we had that lasted the longest was a dry-erase chart with a few basic things in morning, noon, and night sections and then also a "Do 1 or 2 Extra Chores" section in each time slot where they could pick little things that were necessary and slightly more fun to do, like dusting the blinds or wiping off the doorknobs. Cassia, especially, really liked the extra chores. I could bring that one back out and then add the cooking schedule to that.

So hopefully, with a little more organization, a little more focus, and a little more fun, 2010 will be a fabulous year. It will be the year when Greyson reaches a more rational age (4) and when Linus will be the only whirlwind toddler. If I can only keep the older ones acting more like older ones and less like toddlers, lol, we'll be Golden. And hopefully, I will find time to blog.