Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How I Do Laundry for 6 people in One Hour Per Week

I think almost every mom I know dreads laundry. It seems to be never ending, take up so much of our time, and just be a drag. I used to feel that way a lot of the time, but I've come up with a system for laundry that works SO well for our family of 6 and only takes me just under one hour every week! 
Since becoming a mom of 4, I have found that when something is taking up too much of my time (chore wise), or I am completely dreading it or drowning in it, I need to reevaluate how I am doing it and why it is no longer working for me. No one way works for every home, with any chore. I was sick of falling behind with laundry and spending what felt like hours every day folding and putting it away. I used to do laundry by categorizing my laundry by person. Monday I would do mine and my husband's laundry. Tuesday I would do the girls' laundry. Wednesday I would do the boys' laundry, so on and so forth. This meant that every day I was washing about a week's worth of laundry for 2 people. For a long time I preferred doing it this way because it was less sorting. I didn't have to make 20 piles for everyone in our family and go around to each room putting things away. But after adding so many more people to our family, it just wasn't working anymore, so I reevaluated and what I've been doing for the last several months has been working out so well! It's really so simple. 

I wash a load of laundry every week day. I was already doing this, but now I am washing the clothes that were worn the day before by everyone in the family. I don't do laundry on the weekends so on Monday I have 3 days of laundry to wash (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and Tuesday-Friday I am doing one day's worth. Tuesday-Friday it takes me just under 7 minutes to fold all the laundry and put it away. My girls put their own laundry away. I leave it in a pile for them on the couch and they put it away and leave their shirts/dresses on the floor for me to hang since they can't reach. 7 minutes x 4 days a week is 28 minutes. On Monday it takes me about 20 minutes to fold and put everything away. It takes me around 30 seconds to throw a load in the washer or take it out of the dryer, so just a few minutes a week for that. Add in extra loads like towels or sheets here and there throughout the week, which take even less time to fold and I am coming in right around 1 hour a week. 

I don't sort clothes by color (we don't wear much white aside from socks or under shirts anyway) or type (jeans, sweaters, etc.) but I wasn't doing that before either and have NEVER had a problem washing all the clothes together. I have 1 laundry basket in the hall way and when everyone changes into their pajamas before bed, they throw their clothes from the day into the laundry basket, and in the morning after they get dressed, they throw their pajamas in and then I start the laundry right away in the morning, and fold it during the kids nap/rest time. 
I have no idea why it takes so much less time. It should be the same amount of clothes in a week, right? It doesn't make sense and I have no explanation, but it goes so much faster and my loads are so much smaller each day. 
The best part about it is that I never feel like I am behind on laundry. I have the system and routine down pat now and knowing that it only takes me a few minutes per day makes me looking forward to just getting it done! Last week I was sick on Monday, and recouping on Tuesday so I didn't get around to the weekend's laundry until Wednesday so I had to do 5 days worth of laundry for 6 people in that one day and it took me FOREVER. It really solidified for me that this system is working out SO well for me and I'm so glad I switched! 
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Homeschool Curriculum Choices: Kindergarten

I actually can't believe I'm writing this post. My baby is starting Kindergarten in the fall. I guess I'll skip over all the mushy stuff because if you're a parent you know how it is-she was just born, can't possibly be this old, it's so fun to watch her grow, but so sad it's going so fast, etc. ;) 
As a former teacher, I've been thinking ahead to the school years pretty much since my kids were conceived. I really cherished their young years, and I think a lot will change in their school years since a lot of our life will be about school now, but I am looking forward to that, too. 
So this year, my biggest girl will officially be a kindergartner. She will be 6 in a few months (her birthday is just a few days after the cut off). My girls are pretty much attached at the hip, and my 4 1/2 year old daughter is actually probably even more ready in some ways for certain subjects, so I am going to do a lot of things with both of them. If my younger daughter is ready to learn to read, and I'm teaching the older one anyway, why not just teach them both, together? I think it'll make things easier long term, as well. So technically my oldest will be in Kinder this year, but except for math, my younger kind of will be too, if that makes sense. 
So, without anymore jabber, here is what I've chosen for our curriculum for 2017-2018. 
Language Arts:
Right now, this is our biggest focus. Both of my girls are really ready to read and I got a little lazy about it this last year. They know all of their letters, all consonant sounds and some vowel sounds, and can somewhat write most of their letters (some are formed incorrectly...) I was kind of picky about the program I chose for several reasons. One reason was that I didn't want to be picking out 5 different curriculums. I see a lot of homeschoolers choosing separate curriculum for reading, grammar, spelling, handwriting, etc. and I just didn't want to deal with that for this year. Another thing I was looking for was a really solid program. I want my kids to be excellent readers, because it is such a valuable life skill, and just so crucial. I also wanted a program that wouldn't be overly repetitive. Some repetition is okay, but when each week is the exact same activities with a different letter, we all get bored. SO, after lots and LOTS of research, the program I chose is Logic of English: Foundations. I had actually never heard anyone mention this curriculum before, and I usually look into programs I've seen recommended, so this one was totally foreign to me, but I think we are going to love it. It is multisensory, which the girls will love, and covers phonics, reading, handwriting, and spelling. They have a big focus on phonics rules, and explain that actually almost everything has a rule or reason, where so many of us sometimes feel like English is so random and doesn't always make sense. I think this will really help them to understand how our language works, and give them a lot of tools for proper usage. Foundations has 4 levels. I have ordered levels A and B so far. I am not 100% sure how fast we are going to work this year. We will do school 4 days a week (more about that later), and each level has 48 lessons. So, we could be through it with quite a few weeks to spare, and I may order level C depending on how it's going and how well we like the program. I don't want to push it too much this first year, so I'm not going to plan the entire year out in a rigid schedule this time, and am going to go more at their pace and take time to slow down if we need to. Foundations will be the biggest part of our Kindergarten year. 
This is everything that comes with Foundations A & B, for 2 students.
For math, I am planning to order Math U See Primer. I have heard of tons of homeschoolers using this program, and loving it, so we are going to start with this. I am really hoping it works out well for my kids so we can just use it year after year! Only my oldest will start on this program this year. I haven't purchased it yet, so I'm not completely familiar with it, but my understanding is that there is a video lesson each week which introduces a new concept, and then those 5 days it builds on that same concept. I believe there's a review/assessment on the 5th day. I like this because it really makes sure that kiddos understand a concept fully before moving onto the next, and I think that the curriculum builds off of each concept. I remember teaching some math curriculums before where it was one 30 minute math lesson and a first grader was supposed to have mastered that concept completely. No wonder so many kids are frustrated by math! It comes with a manipulative set that is used throughout each level in the program. I know my daughter will really enjoy using that to learn. 
We are starting Bible out with Bible Study Guide for All Ages. I always have a really hard time choosing Bible curriculums. I want to make sure they're theologically sound, and also that my kids will enjoy them and they'll make sense and be relevant. It's surprisingly hard to find good ones, I feel like! Because I've had such a hard time finding ones we all like, I only ordered the first set of lesson pages (26 lessons). I want to try it out for a little while and make sure we like it, before committing to a whole year of it. We will see! I think it'll be engaging for my girls because it's really interactive. I really like that they have the same lessons at different levels, so that in the future, if we stick with this one, we can teach all of the kids but have them each doing age appropriate activities. 

Unit Study:
Its probably the early childhood teacher in me, but I love unit studies. This year, we are going to do an ocean life unit. I am kind of obsessed with sea creatures, and my kids really like them, too, so I thought, why not learn a ton about them this year?! I am mostly going to focus on the different ocean animals, but we'll also learn about the different oceans Earth has, the ocean zones, do experiments, and more. I am really looking forward to this, and I know my girls will enjoy it so much! My husband and I have something really fun planned for the very end of the unit/year, too :) I'm not quite sure where we'll fit it into our schedule yet, but for right now I'm thinking twice a week. I made up a page that the girls can make for each animal they learn about, and then we'll bind them into a book at the end. I'll have to share the printables for that later on. I like that we'll be able to incorporate a lot of different subjects into this unit. 
Enrichment Classes: 
I *think* we've officially decided to put my oldest into a homeschool enrichment class. She'll go once a week for about 5 hours and will have art, music, p.e., science, history, lunch and recess with other homeschooled kids (which is why we'll only school 4 days a week at home). I was really back and forth on this, but I think it will end up being really good, and if not, we don't have to continue. I really like that she'll get experiences we just can't do at home (like they have a kiln in the art room and do pottery, they have a science fair, world food fest, music concert, etc.) and I know she will really enjoy going to school.  At least for Kindergarten I'm going to see how much she gets out of science and history with that, and possibly do a little here and there at home. I am not planning to purchase a formal curriculum for science or social studies for this year, though. When I student taught in Kinder and 1st, they only did each of those subjects once a week, so I'm thinking she'll probably be fine with just the enrichment class for those, plus supplementing with our unit study and some science experiments here and there. 
So, that's it! There's our Kindergarten year laid out. I am not planning to plan out the year in advance like I've done it the past, because I want to really get a feel for how quickly or slowly we need to move in some subjects this year. I feel like Kinder is kind of a trial year in some ways. They learn A TON in Kinder, but also have a lot of opportunity to just get a feeling for school and learning before 1st. We are all really looking forward to the year and lots of fun learning opportunities! If you are homeschooling, what curriculum(s) have you chosen for next year?! 
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Big Bike/Lemonade Stand/Memorial Weekend/Fishing/Friends/Mother's Day

Summer already. I feel like every year I say more and more how fast time is going, but this year is seriously flying by. I feel like it was JUST Christmas, and here we are, halfway back to it almost. We are so excited for summer, though. We've been trying to really take advantage of being outdoors (when it's not rainy) before it gets too hot, humid and miserable.

My biggest girl learned how to ride her bike without training wheels a few weeks ago. She had been asking when we could take them off, and one beautiful day we just decided to do it. The first go round, she was really wobbly and my husband ran alongside her and had his hand on her seat the entire time, and then a couple more times up and down the street she was going on her own! I remember when my dad took off my training wheels and it was a long, miserable process, but my girl was ready I guess! She has been crushing it on her bike ever since, and is just about too fast for my husband to keep up on foot. Of course I don't have any pictures of this because I only took video. 

My girls also had their first lemonade stand a few weekends ago! They thought this was pretty much the best thing ever. We are the first house in our neighborhood so they got LOTS of customers! 
Over Memorial weekend, we went to visit some friends a couple hours away. They have moved out of state but were back visiting parents, so we made a little trip out of it and spent about 24 hours at their parents place. They had a fishing lake, 4 wheelers, chickens, etc. The kids all just had a blast and it was so fun to catch up with friends + let our kids all just run around the land. My girl has been asking when she can go fishing for quite awhile now. Her dad isn't really a big fisherman, so it just hasn't been something we've ever done, so this was her first time out. She caught 7 fish the first day and 3 the second! She's been begging for a ninja turtle fishing pole and I haven't ever gotten it since we don't really fish, but I think I'll have to get it for her now. 

My friend Ashley and I met in 7th grade, so we've been friends for almost twenty years! So crazy. It is so fun to see how life progressed and now between our two families we have 8 kiddos running around. The girls are all crazy about each other and I know they'll all be great friends growing up--if only we lived closer. The girls have been calling Norah their "cousin friend". So cute. 
Mother's Day this year (mostly so I can remember it looking back): We had BEAUTIFUL weather. We went to church in the morning, then met my husband's family at a park and picnicked and then played at the playground there. We stayed several hours until everyone was too hot and tired. After naps, we rode bikes to get ice cream. On the way, the trailer got a flat tire. My husband was able to make it the rest of the way there, but me and my riding buddy had to bike home, get the car and come back for the rest of them. It was about 7-8 miles overall, and we accidentally had ice cream for dinner, but it was so fun. I am very thankful I get to be a mom. God has been so gracious to me. These kiddos are my most precious treasures. 

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