Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#TuesdayTen: Lifelong Learning

The kids are back in school! The first day fears have been conquered. New friends are bring made. Homework is getting done. In my job, I function on an academic schedule too. While I work year-round, the ebb and flow of tasks and assignments is tied to three semesters: fall, spring, and summer.
The entire country is in back-to-school mode and it puts thoughts of learning in my head. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher. I've always enjoyed learning new things and helping others to learn too. While classroom teaching didn't end up suiting me, I still enjoy teaching and learning.
This week for #TuesdayTen, Lisa and I are exploring ten things we would like to learn:


  1. How to crochet
  2. HTML
  3. Play the piano
  4. More about child development
  5. More about cooking and creating my own recipes
  6. How to take better photographs
  7. Geology/archaeology
  8. Basic wiring/electricity
  9. How to design/sew my own clothes
  10. Appliance repair
How about you? Anything that you'd like to learn as we go back to school?

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We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen!

 
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1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the TuesdayTen topic for this week and add our TuesdayTen button to your post or sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts. Links not pertaining to the topic will be removed at the hosts' discretion.
3) Visit your hosts and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing.
5) By linking up you agree to be subscribed to out #TuesdayTen mailing list. Emails are only sent once a week and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click here.
 
Come link up again next Tuesday, September 9th, when the topic will be Sep 9 - Interesting things about yourself/Words that describe you 
(Wonderful Weirdos Day! - i.e. we are all unique)
 
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Resolution Recap: August?...Can we Skip August?

I honestly thought about not even writing a recap this month! In some ways I feel like I accomplished nothing at all in August, but as I sit here thinking back on it, I was hyper focused on a few things and everything else fell by the wayside. That happens, right?

August was a busy month at work. We moved back into our regular offices and had lots of stuff to unpack and routines to get back to. I have six new students at work this year, so I had preparation before they arrived and then a crazy week of training when they came back to campus. We do our training during the students' regular shifts, so I often feel like I am in six places at once, trying to remember what I've said to which students. Luckily I've given them all a checklist so they can keep track of me! It works really well, so I'm glad I had that idea. I barely sat down at all last week and the times I did sit down I was so scatterbrained and tired, I don't think I accomplished much.


At home, we had the last two weeks of summer camps and then the obvious back-to-school chaos going on. We've got three kids in three different school this year. It means I'm juggling three different calendars, three different lunch menus and three different sets of procedures. I've gotten myself some crates for organizing papers we want to keep and a binder for keeping track of notes and important documents, but it's a matter of training myself to start using them.

So that I don't look at the month of August as a complete failure, I would like to take a moment to brag about the two things that did go well in August:
Firstly, I read a great article about teaching your kids to pray. It really hit home with me because, while my kids are good at their rote prayers, I've often noticed that they don't know how to create a spontaneous prayer. We've been using the ACTS method of prayer as part of our bedtime routines and the kids are starting to pick up on the parts. I don't make them each say something for each part, but I do leave long moments of silence to encourage them if they want to say something.

We've also been doing really well with our timers and routines in the mornings and evenings. I changed the songs on the iPods to get their attention and mornings haven't been as bad as I had expected. We are getting up a full hour early that last year (the kids now get up at the same time as Ken and I do). The boys have never had an issue getting up early. Now Frances takes a shower in the morning and that seems to get her moving a little better.

In summary: August was BUSY!! I'm looking forward to keeping our routines going and having more time to get my house back in shape and work on other goals.

What have you been accomplishing lately?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pick-Ease for Picky Eaters {Review}

I've mentioned before that I love to cook. I enjoy serving my family healthy meals and, to be frank, I enjoy eating them myself.  All three of my kids have gone through a picky stage where they had to be convinced to eat certain foods, but for the most part Frances and Henry are very good eaters. They get excited about Brussels Spouts, for goodness sake!

Benjamin, on the other hand, has taken picky to a whole new level. He doesn't like things with sauce on them. He won't eat most vegetables. He even refuses old favorites on occasion. Just to keep us on our toes? Who knows!  What I do know is that there are certain things I can do and certain things I can't do when it comes to mealtimes.

Things I can't/won't do:
  • I can't make him eat something he doesn't want to try.
  • I refuse to cook separate meals for him.
  • I won't turn mealtimes into a stressful battle.
Things I can do:
  • Serve a variety of foods each night.
  • Offer choices repeatedly so he can get used to them.
  • Encourage him to try new things.
  • Get him involved in the planning and preparation.
  • Make eating more fun for him.
While I don't want to turn mealtimes into a circus (the kids do that themselves most nights!) I do recognize the fact that making things fun will make trying new things go more smoothly.  I've tried designs or pictures on their plates. I've let them eat with serving spoons or spatulas. We have nights where they plan the menu and get to each pick out their favorites. Most of those are not things I can do every night, though.

I've discovered two things I can do almost every night that greatly increase the chances that Benjamin will eat more than rice with butter on it: tiny portions and Pick-Ease (say it out loud!)



I have a slightly controversial rule at my house when it comes to dinner. The kids have to clean their plates if they want seconds or dessert.  I don't like wasted food and I don't want them to skip dinner in lieu of sweets.  With that said, I always serve them small portions. As my grandmother used to say at almost every meal, "You can always take more, but you can't take less." Small portions are less intimidating on the plate. For Benjamin, "small portions" means one bite of each item.  Even when I'm serving things I know he will eat, I only give him one bite.  That increases the likelihood that he will finish everything on his plate. His desire for more rice usually wins out over his disdain for a tiny slice of zucchini.

A few weeks ago I was browsing Facebook and I noticed a discussion about picky eaters. I clicked on it to see if there were any tips I hadn't tried before and I saw a link to Pick-Ease. When I looked farther, I decided that these would be fun to try for Benjamin, so I contacted the designer and asked if I could review a set for my readers.   

Pick-Ease are Melissa Desrochers' answer to picky toddlers at the table. Melissa was running her own home daycare and serving meals to lots of picky toddlers. She discovered, as many other parents have, that the kids were often more willing to eat foods served on toothpicks!  Toothpicks, however, aren't always a safe solution for toddlers. Melissa came up with the idea of Pick-Ease to solve that problem.

Pick-Ease are 3.5 inch picks designed to fit easily into a child's hand.  They have a small, pointed tip and a chunky handle that is easy for small hands to grasp.  They are brightly colored with fun designs on the top that will appeal to young users. Even better, they are BPA-free and dishwasher safe!

Pick-Ease come in packs of two and can be purchased directly from the Pick-Ease website. My boys both love using Pick-Ease now at meal times.  Frances even wanted in on it, but I explain that at ten, she's a little old for something like this.  (She can use them if she really wants to, of course).  Melissa's got some really great tips over at her blog, so you'll want to stop over and check that out

I was given a set of Pick-Ease to review for my blog. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Diggin' Potatoes

We spent last Saturday morning digging potatoes for our local food pantry. It was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun.

Don't mind Ben back there...he hates fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#TuesdayTen: Back To School Time!

It's Tuesday and I'm late for my own linkup!! How appropriate that we are dishing back to school pros and cons today!!  I'll bet you can guess a couple of things on my list already!

1. Routines--Yeah!!  For the most part, I am excited to get back to our school time routines. It takes a load off of my mind to know where we need to be every day without having to think about which camps end at which times on which days.  Also, as much as I love having the kids be able to spend a week at my parent's house, it is nice to not have to re-train them again every other week. (Sorry, Mommy! I love you!!)
2. Routines--Boo!  On the other hand, there is a bit of monotony involved in a regular schedule of wake up, get ready, go.  In the summer it's easier to take a day off and just do nothing. During the school year I can't just pull the kids out of school to play hooky for something fun. 
3.  Learning--Yeah! My kids love learning and I love seeing what new things they've discovered. I told Frances this morning that her math homework looked kind of hard. She shrugged and said, "It's just exponents and square numbers!"  My girl loves math and I love that about her! 
4.  Homework--Boo! I know it is a necessary evil, but getting homework done is like pulling teeth at my house (and houses everywhere, apparently!) Thankfully, they usually get it done at their after school program, but I still have to go through their backpacks, sneak papers into the trash and sign forms every night. That's hard work too!
5.  Activities--Yeah!  We're getting ready to get back into the swing of things with ballet, soccer, and violin. I'm even thinking of getting the older two into the children's choir at church...because I'm crazy! They love all these activities and I love watching them shine. Plus, Benjamin gets to play soccer this year and we just bought him the cutest, tiniest, day-glo yellow cleats!
6.  Activities--Boo! On the other hand, activities mean running around all over town in the evenings, coordinating schedules with Ken, dinner on the go and fewer family nights at home.  Plus, Saturday morning games for two this year.
7.  Early mornings--Boo. I like getting up early in the morning. It's the showering, getting dressed, and dealing with little people that I object to.  We've gotten our bedtime routine going pretty well, but the kids are still tired in the mornings. That's why I'm so excited about...
8.  Sleeping in on the weekends...just kidding! That never happens!
9.  New friends for the kids--Frances is at a new school with about two and a half times the number of classmates. She's making new friends and meeting new people. That's exciting for her. Henry has a few familiar faces in his class, but he also gets to meet new people. And Benjamin is BACK IN CLASS WITH SIMON!!  He and his best friend got separated in April of last year and now they are back together. It's been a major topic of conversation in our house for a few weeks.
10.  New friends for me--I've got new parents to meet from school, new students to get to know at work and new kids to meet in Sunday school classes. Meeting new people is fun, and who knows? I might find a real gem!

How about you? Are you jumping for joy as soon as the bus leaves or holding back tears in the drop off line?





#TuesdayTen is hosted by:

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We hope you have enjoyed our #TuesdayTen lists! If so, please link up one of your own and share your post using #TuesdayTen!

 
  RULES:
1) Link up a post, old or new, pertaining to the TuesdayTen topic for this week and add our TuesdayTen button to your post or sidebar.
2) Please do not link up contests, product reviews, or sponsored posts. Links not pertaining to the topic will be removed at the hosts' discretion.
3) Visit your hosts and follow them on social media.
4) Visit as many other linked posts as you can and show those bloggers some love by commenting and/or sharing.
5) By linking up you agree to be subscribed to out #TuesdayTen mailing list. Emails are only sent once a week and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you would like to be added to the mailing list without linking up, click here.
 
Come link up again next Tuesday, September 2nd, when the topic will be Things you would like to learn (in honor of back to school & Self Improvement Month)
 
Don't forget to add the #TuesdayTen badge to your post or homepage!
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Monday, August 25, 2014

My Weekend By The Numbers

It's Monday and it's a crazy day! The students come back and I have training all day for the next week.  Which is worse: being the trainer or the trainee? This week I'm the trainer and it drains my brain!

Here's a quick way to sum up our weekend without getting too wordy:

Number of things I wanted to do on Saturday: 0
Number of things we ended up doing: 4
Number of times my son told me that I needed to do laundry because he didn't have clean shorts: 4
Number of times I actually did laundry: 0
Number of times my youngest asked me to mow the grass because he couldn't play golf (he's 4 by the way!): 3
Number of times I mowed the grass: 0
Number of chores my children did over the weekend
               with no complaints: 0
               while whining: 2
Number of chores I did this weekend:
               with no complaints: 0
               while wining: 3
Approximate number of minutes Henry spent taking a shower: 45
Approximate number of times I worried about the water bill: 3
Number of times I told him to get out of the shower: 0  (What!?! He was quiet and happy! I left him alone!!)


How was your weekend!?
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