Friday, October 2, 2009

Structure in the home

Here's a link to a blog post on structure in the home. Good thoughts here. I know that I have found structure to be a great help to our family life and helping our children be successful. Limits have really helped our home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer Surprise Kit

Brenda and I are brainstorming today about what we could put into a box (that the children can decorate! on the first day of summer!) that could be use to stick some surprises into. (Of course, you don't have to have all the ideas ready at the beginning of summer, or have more than one surprise in the box at a time.) Here's what we thought of. We'd welcome your ideas on the comments, please...!

1. Jumping Jack (and Jill): Long jump rope or Chinese jump rope (you can just use elastic for this) and some jump rope rhymes AND the promise of Mom jumping with you for 15 minutes (Brenda will turn until baby comes and who knows how long after)
2. Be Julia Child: put in a new recipe to try (Liz wants to try making bagels or frozen bananas on a stick, you know, the kind rolled in nuts. Brenda says she tried making bagels once, and it was a total disaster. Anyone have success here? Brenda doesn't have anything she feels like making right now with baby growing bigger.)
3. Color Me Melted: put in used crayons for a crayon melt picture. You cover a griddle with tin foil, unwrap the crayon wrappers, and draw a picture on the tin foil. Then you put a paper on top, and press carefully with a paper towel (Mom can have the pleasure of burning fingers here). Very fun--Liz did this as a child)
4. Earn Your Rent: lemonade (or fresh produce) stand kit: cups, lemon flavored whatever (or sugar if you're making it fresh or whatever), stand signs (or markers, tape, and paper for poster), some loose change to break those $20's from the big spending dads who drive by
5. Be Bob the Builder: a hammer, nails, and some wood scraps (OK, maybe these won't fit in the box, like the lemonade concentrate, but maybe they could be somewhere else)
6. Pressed for Time: a paper (or website) with instructions on flower pressing, tissue paper, books or cardboard and brick or whatever
7. Floral Shop: Tissue paper, string or twisty ties. See this post at Daily Grapefruit
8. Hair Shop: Brushes, comb, curling iron, ponies (NO SCISSORS) for hair styling time.Do braids, buns, goofy gun stuff. POST YOUR PHOTOS HERE! AND/OR Make flower barrettes: put in fake flowers, jewels (plastic bling stuff), clips, glue gun, glue gun sticks.
9. Be Betsy Ross: put in red, white, and blue fabric and needles, thread, scissors (or glue sticks) (or permission to use the sewing machine) and possibly fabric stars.
10. Trip to Hollywood: let them use your video recorder (do you dare?) to make a movie. Maybe include an idea or two for a story book that they could use with a couple of props or costume pieces to get them started brainstorming. Include tickets for the movie showing and popcorn bags/boxes, if desired.
11. Frozen Delights: popsicle sticks, popsicle molds, Kool Aid package or other juice.
12. Mary Poppins Sidewalks: with a container of sidewalk chalk, have them draw a destination that they'd like to "pop into" and then go from there, following the idea they come up with: check out a book from the library or a movie related to the destination. Or have them dress up and pretend to go there, or make something for dinner that is related.
13. Vacation Sweepstakes: One summer day we "went" to India. We invited our local cousins to come with us. The children made airline tickets, we got some little packages of peanuts, checked out a movie from the library about India as well as the movie "Rikki Tikki Tavi." Then we made Indian food for dinner and invited a friend who is Indian. She brought a curry dish as well as some Indian traditional dress. All of the big girls and me (Liz) dressed up in costume and took pictures. This was a fun day as well as a great memory. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learning to be positive

This morning as I was picking up the shoes from the mudroom floor I was reminded that yesterday my daughter, Rebecca, had completed an assignment from school. They had read a book (I need to find out the title) about someone who had scooped dog poop in his neighborhood as a service because no one wanted to do it. He saw a need and filled it. So Rebecca's assignment from school was to find a need and fill it, anonymously. (DON'T YOU LOVE THAT?!) She walked into the mudroom and saw shoes spilling out from the shelves and onto the floor, and went to vacuuming and tidying. WOW! It was fabulous!

I keep a little pad of sticky notes in the mudroom to write notes to my children when I see them doing something good and stick the note in their clean laundry basket. I decided to write her a note to say thanks for cleaning up since her work yesterday made today's job so quick and easy. As I was writing, I had one of those moments that you have in motherhood when you feel like "This is what I am supposed to learn from being a mother:" to learn to see and acknowledge the good in others. Learning to thank. In moments like this it is such an obvious picture: you see the good, you tell someone else, the other person feels good, it strengthens his or her desire to be good, and he/she choose to do good again. Those small and simple things! In the moment I could feel that it was more important for me to stop and take 30 seconds to write a note then it was to keep going about my morning work of folding, tidying, wiping, and clothing.

I just had to write it down because I need to remember to take the time to do that!

And isn't it so great to have school teachers who are also spreading around goodness?

I find that coming to our Mothers of America meetings give me a boost to look for the good. You are all teachers to me. Thanks!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Laundry, laundry

Two of my children are hiding in the room baskets. I used laundry bags to put inside to differentiate between whites and colors. (I didn't have room for the ones that come in colors that are rectangular.)
Each laundry basket has a label for those who are helping fold. (I have children who help on specific days.)
VoilĂ : the dirty rag basket. Anything muddy, etc., goes here.

This post is for anyone who is frustrated with laundry and wants some fresh ideas.

I am finally at a place where the laundry system is working for our family. I think, essentially, that it is because I have no babies right now, and I have children old enough to help and a husband who follows up on the system we've established. (Probably any system works with that kind of support.) But here is ours.

The children have two laundry baskets in their rooms: one for colors, one for whites. Since they share rooms, each child is assigned to bring the laundry from one of those baskets down from their room to the laundry room each morning right after they get up. There are two similar baskets in the laundry room, so they dump their clothing in either the white or colored basket. Then I can start a load first thing in the a.m. I also have a basket for dirty kitchen and cleaning towels and rags, and one other small basket for hand washables.

I am VERY thankful for a large capacity/high efficiency washer and dryer, since I can basically do one load of whites and one load of colors each day and keep up with the laundry. 

I fold the laundry as I take it out of the dryer. (I don't ever take it out of the dryer unless I'm going to fold it right then because then the double work begins.)  I put it into a basket labeled for each child. The children then have to ("house rule") put away their own laundry each day and bring the basket back immediately. I put anything that has to be ironed (heaven forbid) into a separate pile in the laundry room and pray that it gets ironed some day. (Mending? Yikes. Another pile off into the oblivion of the sewing room.) I help the 5 year old put his laundry away, and another child is assigned to put the 3 year old's laundry and basket away.

I have one basket for clean linens, which I put away. Everyone has his or her own towels (2, a different color for each child), so it's not a big deal since we probably only wash sheets every other week or so.

I also have a tall plastic drawer thing that I use for socks. Instead of sending children's socks up to their rooms, I put their matched socks and any unmatched socks in their own little drawer. I know it sounds more complicated, but actually, it has made the sock thing easier for the whole family. Not quite sure why. Got the idea of a sock drawer from another family and use it this way in ours.

There you are. Hope it is helpful to someone! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mittens, Hats and Scarves...Oh My!

Now that winter has arrived I feel overwhelmed with winter gear. My kids come home from school and create a pile the size of a mountain at my door. Mittens, scarves, hats, boots - you can barely see the door once my children are fully undressed. Last year I was visiting a friend and saw probably one of the simplest, yet most brilliant ideas of my life. She had all her winter gear stored in a shoe holder which was attached to a closet door. Each child had a few pockets to store their hats and gloves. I finally purchased a shoe holder last week and set it up. Little kids on the bottom, big kids towards the top. It has only been two weeks, but already I love it! This may not be a tip on helpful parenting but trust me it has solved a lot of undo arguments concerning the lost gloves, the missing hats and the still wet scarves.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gift Drawer

I was inspired many years ago by Liz to start a "birthday gift drawer." It has saved me much time & frustration on more then one occasion. I buy toys, creative things, jewelry, really whatever, during sales and put them in a drawer in my office. Then when we get a last minute (or forgotten) invitation I send the girls "shopping" in the drawer. They love picking something out. I also keep a few generic baby shower gifts & gift cards as well.

A gift's a good thing!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Johnson Family Routines

This is a very first attempt at job chart/chore motivation, but it has worked for us (when I am on top of it). Here goes:

Each kid has their "routine" in a page protector and posted on the wall. Right now, they each have before/after school responsibilities (except the baby). As they finish something on their routine, they can check it off with a dry erase marker. At the end of the day, they get a Johnson buck (redeemable for goodies--dollar store, treats, etc) for each job completed, and if they got them all they get 5 more for being thorough.

Like most of you have probably experienced, this only works as far as mom is on top of the situation--gently reminding, enthusing, etc.

I am sure most of us have tried this, so I am looking forward to input from all of you on what has worked for you and what hasn't.

INPUT SPECIFICALLY WANTED: What jobs do you give your children and at what ages? I constantly struggle figuring out specific age-appropriate chores for my kids that they can "own" without me swooping in a cleaning it up because it is so much easier to "just do it myself." I am in that rut, and I would love some help climbing out of it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Melanie Johnson