Thursday, March 2, 2017

Day in the Life 2017 (with an 11-, 9-, 7- and 3- yr old )

Hello there!

I've been enjoying peeks into other families' daily lives over on  I thought I'd invite you in for the day to see our family's "daily-daily" routine with four girls on this happy little micro farm.

Usually around 6:00 am I roll out of bed and tiptoe out to the kitchen.  These days I think I get more sleep than when I had infants and toddlers, but sometimes I wonder why I'm still tired.  I work out some mornings, but lately the elliptical has been empty more mornings than not.  My husband, the Rugged Mountain Man, is almost done with his morning prep.  I start his coffee and whip up something for his breakfast.  We chat a little, enjoying a few uninterrupted sentences.  He heads out and I plop down in my favorite chair with a pretty fountain pen, leather journal and my Kindle to have my quiet time.  "Not a day without a line... or some gratitude" is my motto.

At 6:30 am, my two older Blossoms' alarm clock goes off.  Blossom1 is 11 yrs old and Blossom2 is 9yrs old.  They also tiptoe out, grab their Kindles, a cozy blanket and get comfy on the couch to read their Bibles too.  They'll write a little in their journals later.  Our individual morning quiet times have looked different over the years, sometimes happening at the kitchen table, later, we'd all snuggle in my bed in the morning and now we congregate the living room.  I try to go with what's working until it quits working for us.

Around 7:00 am, the little Blossoms come out.  Blossom3, who is seven, grabs her Kindle so she and Blossom4, our 3 yr old, can listen to the Bible for a little bit.  The YouVersion app really gets a workout around here.  I put my Kindle and journal away and begin preparing breakfast.  We eat together, with a complaint or two, that it's eggs... again.  #microfarmcomplaints  When I'm finished, I grab the Bible story book and read a chapter or two, usually punctuated by Blossom4's, "READ MORE, READ MORE!" comments.  I'm convinced that reading aloud regularly with your kids has great benefits, including an appreciation for hearing God's Word and His stories.  We pray and get started on morning prep and chores, inside and out.

It's 7:45ish and the bigger Blossoms head outside to feed animals.  It takes them about half hour or forty five minutes, depending on the weather, how many rabbit stories they make up while they're out there and how much animal cuddling is going on.  They are keeping tabs on a rabbit doe they bred, so they report that there's no baby bunnies... yet.

Meanwhile, Blossom3 and Blossom4 are doing inside chores.  Blossom3 feeds the dogs, bird, cat and woolly bear caterpillars.  Blossom4, and actually all the girlies work through their chore cards, a system that I read about in Managers of their Homes/Managers of their Chores by Steve and Teri Maxwell years ago.  It continues to work well for us.  When they have their chores memorized, they don't have to use the cards, but I do find it helpful to periodically go back when people start "forgetting" all they're supposed to do in the morning.  That, and Blossom4 prefers to "wander" and "giggle" instead of bring out the hampers and make her bed and such.

In this time, I get my shower and make myself presentable.  Don't laugh, but I did a style challenge in February.  It was a great way to not grab the same hoodie and pair of jeans every morning.  Since I believe that people won't respect you if you don't respect yourself, this was a fun little inspiration by one of my favorite bloggers.

This is also the time of the morning that I pull something out of the freezer for supper and try to do one of my chores that's on my daily rotation.  I take time to write out the meals for the day on the little fridge white board.  I got tired of answering numerous and repeated questions on what we were having for each meal, so our little fridge whiteboard took care of that.

By 8:30 am, the bigger Blossoms are back in.  They finish up a few inside chores.  Then, we convene in the schoolroom and get started on school.  I assign a few things for Blossom4 to play with.  Blossom1 and Blossom2 pull out their independent work and get busy.  They are encouraged to do their math first, when they're fresh.  Otherwise, they can choose their work order.  Our best days of school are the days I remember to keep email minimized or the computer closed during school time.

It sure helps me to stay focused on the most important thing, 
being available and present with our children's education.  

I work with Blossom3 first.  We go over everything she needs my help on, making sure she understands instructions and doing her reading lesson together.  After we go over things, the work goes in her independent work drawer and she gets started on anything in that drawer.  Then, I cycle through each of the older two, though my work with them is much more minimal than it used to be, mainly focusing on challenging areas.

Once I've cycled through everyone, we stop and do history together.  Our change to Homeschool In the Woods' Time Travelers' units this year has been perfect.  We LOVE doing history together.  When you have your 3 yr old asking intelligent questions about the British and General Washington and your 7 yr old answering accurately, you know you're doing something good.  Again, their enjoyment of read-aloud time factors in too.  I finish reading a lesson aloud and they pester for more, so I usually oblige.  We finish the hands-on history lesson that accompanies it and then they all return to working on what's in their independent work drawer.

As you can see, our schoolroom system is set up much like an office.  They have a drawer, similar to an inbox, with all of their work.  There's a drawer for the assisted work.  And, there's an inbox for each child on my desk where they turn in completed work.  At any given time, I can glance and see who has what done, what's left for them to do on their own and what's left for them to do with me.

I simply don't have time or the mental capacity to have to be searching for what's left to be done.

A fun and loud sounding alarm goes off!  It's 10:00 am and time for snack.  I got the timer idea from another blogger because when everyone is working well, I was just letting snack time slide.  However, then Blossom4 would be whining for snacks for the next two hours and the older girls couldn't concentrate when they were hungry.  Now we stop what we're doing and they get a 15 minute break to eat snack, read or play.  When "happy alarm" goes off at 10:15 am, it's "back at it!"

As the older girlies settle back in, I pull my chair to Blossom4's desk.  She's only 3 yrs old, but she adores her time with mama.  We do some workbooks, flashcards, activities and/or name-writing.  She wants to learn, so I'm happy to comply!  We do some work together, but I purposely do part of a workbook page with her, give her verbal instructions and create a "pile" of a few things to do on her own at her desk.  She feels important AND I'm training her in "our system" already.  #sneakymom  She finishes up her "work" and goes on to the activities I've laid out for her.

She has a little more freedom than when she was confined to the blanket during school time in previous years.  It sounds limiting, but it's really just rotating activities with a set boundary area.  Now, I mostly just rotate her activities in the dining room to keep her from climbing on her sisters' shoulders or under their desks.  After I check in with the other girlies to see how they're doing with their schoolwork, this is when I plop down on the floor with Blossom4 for doing a few puzzles or reading a story or two.  I've found a direct correlation between her behavior and how much time I spend with her.  Quality time does her good... and it keeps her from setting her snack on fire or other such things that she's been known to do around here.

By 12:15, everybody is "starving," so we break for lunch.  We tidy up the schoolroom and then, the girls help prepare lunch by making sandwiches or chopping veggies.  We chat and enjoy our meals together, but the best part comes afterward!

When I'm finished, I grab our current read-aloud, a cozy blanket and head to my favorite chair.  I read to them while they finish eating and clean up the kitchen.  We've recently finished the entire collection of the writings of Beatrix Potter, the Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, several Trixie Belden books and In Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson.  I haven't always read to the girls at lunch time.  When they were younger, I'd read whenever I thought of it or when they requested it, but now, gathering together at mealtimes is ideal.  It should be noted that this seems to have replaced our afternoon tea time that was working for us a while ago.  For now, we're sticking with lunch time read aloud, until it's time to tweak again.  Either way, the point is quality time with my girlies.

Eventually I declare that it's naptime (normally around 1:00ish.)  One of the older girls goes out to let the chickens out and put the ducks in the garden.  We're using them as natural rototillers right now.

The three older girlies get another 15 minute break to play or read, if they haven't finished all of their schoolwork yet.  Blossom3 takes that break in her bedroom, along with a longer rest time, in which she finishes any schoolwork she has left, in her chair or while lounging in her bed.  #homeschoolperks  Blossom4 picks a few books and heads to my room for her nap.  With a hug and a kiss, she looks at books til she falls asleep.  I grab my Kindle and put up my feet on the couch for a half hour or so... or however long I have to sit there to make sure Blossom4 is truly sleeping and not investigating what treasures abide under my bed.  I call out a stern, "Go to sleep!!!"

She eventually does and I get up to send a few emails and be present in the schoolroom while Blossom1 and Blossom2 finish up.  Their finish time in the afternoon is largely up to their motivational level.  If they stay focused, they finish what's on their Evernote checklist for the day.  They have my guidelines for how much work has to be done, but they write their checklist and then, when the day is done, they record that work in our big checklist that tracks how many days of school they have in for the year.  Blossom1 also checks and corrects her own work.  I still check Blossom2 and Blossom3's work.

Having been schooled with A.C.E.'s School of Tomorrow curriculum, I still love using their stuff for our core subjects.  It fosters independence in their education.  Learning how to manage your own workload is truly a life skill.  For our science, we're doing our own experiments, studying some small animal science I compiled and in conjunction with 4-H and using a little bit of the A.C.E. science.  This was a great way to tweak science to fit their interests and passions.

It's 2:45 pm and Blossom3 and Blossom4 are up/out of their rooms by now.  Blossom2 and Blossom3 correct any mistakes or wrong answers.  I write Blossom3's goals for the next day.  And again, everyone's work gets sorted into independent and assisted work drawers in three drawer rubbermaid units.  At this point, whoever is done with schoolwork is free to play.  Many times, they choose to play outside.

Mommy is not free to play right now though.  Whatever my chores are for the day, according to my daily rotation, I try to tackle it/them before school starts, at snack time or now.  Sometimes I work a little during all three of those times slots, especially if it's bathroom day.  This is also the time that the girls help me or do their inside chores, like helping me clean the three bathrooms or vacuum their own bedrooms.  And in between all of that, I'm throwing in wash and shooting out emails.

The day is flying and it's 4:45 pm.  Daddy's home.  We greet him with much fanfare and I turn my attention toward evening things, like preparing supper.  The Blossoms help here and there and they set the table too.  We sit down, ignore the phone and eat together.  Perhaps it's old-fashioned, but it's normal for us.

Right now, we're enjoying the new state map under the clear table cloth on our kitchen table, so the supper time talk turns to how many state parks there are in our state and the fact that other states have towns the same names as our state does.  When I'm finished eating, I get out the daily math problem from Bedtime Math.  It's great verbal math, mixed with interesting trivia.  Our favorite thus far was the one where jackrabbits were multiplying fast in North Dakota!  We all laugh and figure out the problems.  Daddy, being an engineer, thinks this is a cool new addition to our supper repertoire.  While the girlies finish eating and start cleaning up, I hang out in the living room with Daddy.  We chat, catch up or read sometimes.  Usually he heads off to do a few chores.

Around 6:30 pm is an interesting time in our evening.  I fold clothes, work on the computer, tie up loose ends, give verbal nudges on cleaning up the kitchen and hang out with the girlies.  It's kind of a mix of working together, working separately and hanging out together.  We do things like putting away clothes, practicing lines for an upcoming play together, build block towers or other miscellaneous tasks.

By 8:00 pm, I start doling out bedtime orders.  I try to remember to have Blossom1 fetch the chore packs and hand them out.  It's so much easier than rattling off the teeth-brushing, hair-brushing, plug-in-your-Kindle reminders to all of them... multiple times.  I'll be honest; sometimes I just forget or don't feel like it. Lame, I know.  We also tidy up the house.  It just helps to not feel so behind when we start again tomorrow morning.

It's 8:30 pm and I'm tucking the little Blossoms in with a prayer, a song and a chat about their favorite parts of the day.  Much as I'd love to be a Mary Poppins mama every night, usually by this time, it's taking all my self control to pay attention, smile and be patient.  I just want to sit down and enjoy a little bit of quiet!  The bigger Blossoms are out in the living room with Daddy, pontificating about their latest rabbit breeding plan and new breeds of chickens to be purchased.  They'll go to bed in a few minutes.  When I finally come out, I shoo them off to bed after a few calming words.  It seems like if they're worried or upset about something, we usually talk about it now.  They head to bed and I plop down on the couch to read or jump on Shutterfly to "scrapbook."

Around 9:00 pm, I turn on the blue shade on my Kindle or turn down the brightness on my computer so the blue light doesn't keep me awake.  The idea is that the Rugged Mountain Man and I are winding down now.  Sometimes we have a cup of tea as we chat and read.  I throw a few touch-ups on the kitchen and house, picking up things the girlies missed or putting away few dishes that are now dry.  I lay out my man's coffee and a few breakfast things for tomorrow morning.  After our own bedtime prep, we basically fall into bed, thanking God for grace to do it all again tomorrow.

The days are long, but the years are short, after all.

Thanks for reading, friend.

PS - Other day in the life posts here and here.