Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WFMW: Musical Mornings

This past fall, I grew discouraged over the length of time it took my kids to get ready in the morning. When I came across a CD program online that set a morning routine to music, I thought "Great idea, but I'll do it myself!" The tasks featured in the program would not have been all that helpful to my family, but my husband James and I took the concept and created one of our own tailored to our family.

First I made a list of all the tasks that the kids needed to accomplish in the morning and listed a time frame that I thought would be appropriate for each. Next, I located short, upbeat classical pieces or kids' songs that would fit the time needed. James found a blank tape and recorded his voice cheerfully greeting the children and instructing them step-by-step through the morning chores with music following each instruction. (Since the kids hear my voice for the majority of the day, we decided to have James give the instructions.) Some of the chores differed with each child. For instance, James told my daughter to brush her hair while the boys cared for the guinea pig. Finally, I made a chore chart on the computer with each child's chores listed and a place to check them off when completed each day.

The original CD program recommended rewarding the children with a one-on-one date with a parent as a reward when a certain number of points were achieved. We used that reward once with each child, but then changed our minds. We told them that we didn't want them to feel like they had to earn time with their mom or dad. We wanted to just spend one-on-one time with them whenever we felt like it. I suggested that we change the reward to a book for each child which they thought was a good idea. Recently, after about a month of work, each kid earned a book.

As to the effectiveness of the tape, it works wonderfully! Though it took some time to set up, we are extremely pleased with the results.
The tape reminds the kids what needs to be done in an orderly fashion and they are motivated to get each chore done in the time frame to earn a point. There has been less "forgetting" and more timeliness without nagging. I've been able to take care of the baby without distraction, knowing that they are getting their jobs done!

We have used the morning routine tape in our family Monday through Saturday (later start on Saturday) since early October. My seven year old daughter says that she has the tape memorized and doesn't really need its prompting anymore. Maybe we ought to test that claim sometime! My nine year old son still likes the tape. Prior to the tape, he was the most likely to space his duties and dawdle. The tape has been a cheerful, upbeat way of keeping him on task. My ten year old son appreciates the tape, because it helps them to get going faster, which allows a timely start and finish to homeschooling each day. He says that he doesn't want to ever quit using the tape! Of course, they all enjoy the positive reinforcement of rewards.

Works for me! To read more helpful tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Click on the pictures to see previous WFMW entries:

100_1653 100_0730

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Boys

Overheard during Latin today:

"Barbie is a derivative of barbarus (barbarian), because barbies are so uncivilized and rude!" (Matthew, defender of all things boyish)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Defacing the Giants

I learned from the movie Chariots of Fire not to prejudge a "sports movie." When I was eleven, I reluctantly went to the movie theater with my family to see Chariots of Fire but came away inspired. I deeply admired Eric Liddel for seeking God's glory in all that he did, including running, and for standing on principle in the face of opposition.

Recently on a homeschool discussion board, some people were recommending the movie Facing the Giants as inspiring and family friendly. I gathered that the movie was a football story, and while I'm no football fan, I allowed that the movie could possibly be worthwhile.

James and I rented the movie this weekend, and we quickly realized that it was a "Christian" movie.

*Possible Spoiler Following*

In my opinion, the word that best describes the movie is "fake." Setting aside the poor acting, it was a sermon-driven story, leaving me feel very manipulated. (I don't mean that sermons are usually manipulative!) A good story should be able to communicate important truths without preaching. This particular movie has a good message: Praise God if you win and praise God if you lose. Live life for his glory. What bothered me about this film is that the only losing that occurred (apart from one little token loss! that got reversed!) happened when the characters were not trusting Jesus. As soon as they started living for him, they were showered with victory upon victory in all areas of life. The manipulation part of the movie is that if one raises a skeptical eyebrow, the message is "With God all things are possible." I believe that. Really, I do. But I also know that the kind of "advancing still from strength to strength" that occurs in the lives of heroes of the faith in the scriptures and in all Christians' lives today involves a good bit of suffering and failure from a human perspective. The glory goes to God when we trust in His strength through our weaknesses. That's the kind of faith that people take notice of and that God uses to change lives.

Facing the Giants is not based on a true story. It is not that I am opposed to Christian fiction. However, it seems to me in this case that the purpose of the movie-makers would have been better served by telling a true story of God's work in peoples' lives. Testimonies abound. This movie, in my opinion, actually misrepresents God.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Family Reading

Yesterday morning, Sophie told me that she did not have a book to read, because she had finished both books that I had checked out for her recently at the library. I perused our shelves and picked out King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, thinking that it would satisfy my little horse freak.

She finished the book by 4 p.m.

Yes, she did her schoolwork, and I insisted that she put the book down to eat lunch and to practice piano. Apart from that, she could not put the book down. (At least she didn't cry when she finished it...this time.)

I recently watched the BBC film version of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I enjoyed the movie much more than the BBC version of North and South by the same author. This weekend I purchased Wives and Daughters to read. The kids are calling it my "big pink book." It is 644 pages long and Mrs. Gaskell died before she finished it. (I hope writing such a long book didn't kill her.) The kids compared the book's size to the paperback LOTR trilogy on our shelf. They remarked that it would probably take me a long time to read the pink one. Actually, I re-read the LOTR trilogy in two days after the first movie came out. I'll restrain myself this time, though.

This week, I downloaded the Mozilla Firefox add-on called "Scrapbook" in hopes that it might help me to save and print out a hard copy of my blog. I really, really don't want to read the online manual. I hope I can persuade James to read it for me and then just show me the key features. He he. James doesn't read novels, but he has read the riveting story
Build Your Own Pentium II PC.

But He Smiled!

My oldest three children love to make their baby brother smile. The problem, though, is that they think that his smile is a justification for any of their actions.

Case in point: This morning one of my sons screamed like a ringwraith in the house. I told him to stop making that horrendous noise. He replied, "But Mom! Logan smiled!"

Speaking of Logan, he is fascinated with shadows right now. This morning he smiled with delight watching the shadow of my lips move as I talked to him. This afternoon, he lay on his tummy on the floor near a pool of sunlight trying to grasp leaf shadows cast by a bush outside the window.

I'll make a wild guess that Logan's first word will be "No." When he is bothered by something, he shakes his head emphatically from side-to-side. Of course, he also does it sometimes just to entertain himself.

I don't know if this child will ever need to learn to walk on his own. The older kids certainly enjoy carrying him around. Sophie likes to wrap her arms around him under his armpits and "give him a tour" around the room by lifting him up and setting him down on his feet while she walks on her knees. And today, for the first time, Evan put on the Ergo baby carrier (adjusted to its smallest circumference) and carried Mr. Fussy around a good bit. (Logan had a fever earlier this week and now has a rash. Must be Roseola.) I enjoyed seeing my baby carrying my baby. Logan gazed adoringly up at his big brother. Tonight before bed, all three kids took turns carrying Logan around, giggling as he kicked the air wildly and babbled.

The youngest child gets a lot of attention!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Refrigerator Pictures

wfmwheaderThe following is a re-post in order to share this idea with WFMW participants:

The messy collage of pictures precariously held up by magnets all over my refrigerator has been getting on my nerves. This week I decided to try a new idea.

Sophie has a French memo board in her room where she puts pictures of her friends and cousins, as well as birthday cards, or presently, Valentine's cards. She did such a nice, neat job of arranging it, that I decided to figure out a way of attaching such a board to the fridge. I bought a board, found strips of magnets that I had saved, and with a glue-gun, attached a generous amount to the back of the board. Here is the result:

If you decide to try this idea and the magnets aren't strong enough, someone suggested in the comment section to try using adhesive velcro strips.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Matthew took this video of Sophie demonstrating how to open one of the tricky Valentine cards that the kids made. The cards were easier to make than they look and the children made nineteen to give to family and friends.

Click here for card-making instructions.

Today I've been feeling sick. James has made Butternut Bisque for supper (in favorite recipes in sidebar of my main blog) and dark chocolate pudding for dessert. Beats cards or flowers or candy!

Two days ago, Logan's first tooth peeked through his bottom gums! He has also been moving from a sitting position onto his hands with one knee on the floor and one leg bent in front.

Cousin Cuteness

What's the scoop?

Stop Touching Me!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Play Ball

This video is from a few weeks ago, but I just got around to uploading it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Spinning Song not Spinning Wheels

Are you enjoying my little film festival? I'm apparently a little video happy nowadays. Here is a video of Evan this morning playing Spinning Song. The video is to help him see what he still needs to work on and what areas may be shaky under pressure. Lord willing, he will play this piece and another at a music festival in April.

About a month ago, I began to wonder if he'd ever get his pieces pulled together. Everytime he practiced he just played the pieces and kept practicing the same mistakes over-and-over. It drove. me. nuts. I told him that when he made a mistake, he needed to stop and practice that measure and the measure before and behind it until he could play it perfectly several times in a row. He was just getting depressed by his mistakes instead of correcting them.

Several weeks ago, I asked the teacher to do something about the aimless practicing, and she began to write down short mini-goals for him to work on. It helped him that she said that she didn't care how many got accomplished at each week and at each practice, as long as he worked on them one at a time until he had met each goal.

Now he has a practice log. Each day he writes down a goal(s) and how many measures he actually accomplished with that goal. Last week at piano lesson, his teacher sprang up and shouted "Yes!" after he played his piece better than ever before. He blinked and pursed his lips to try to hide his smile, but his eyes danced with pleasure.

Often Evan is a perfectionist which means he gets discouraged easily and has trouble accepting correction. He often sees tasks as impossible. We have discussed that when he faces a seemingly insurmountable problem (in his head), whether it be in piano or in math, that instead of fretting, he needs to take it to the Lord in prayer and trust God to help him. We have discussed that Evan's weaknesses are opportunity to trust God's strength and to seek His glory in all things. Our discussions are reminders to myself as well, because guess who is a lot like Evan!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Logan has graduated from blowing raspberries to tongue clacking. Clacking, as anyone knows, requires a higher level of skill and finesse. Yesterday, he clacked his tongue during a diaper change, and while Evan stood guard, I grabbed the camera again. After gaping at the camera a bit, Logan began clacking again with Evan. Evan needed brushing up on the skills, after all.

We also discovered yesterday that Logan is a head-banger. I sat him on the floor against a wall next to Matthew during Sophie's (ill-fated) cello lesson. I heard *thunk* *thunk* and looked over to see Logan's head hitting the wall. At first I thought, "Oh no, he's going to cry," but he kept on doing it, on purpose. Laughter broke out all around (some much needed comic relief). The teacher chuckled, "He's banging his head in time to the music!"

I don't know if I should be worried. Logan's favorite toy is a plastic axe from Matthew's fireman costume. The other night, he held it by the handle and purposefully and repeatedly hit himself in the head with the axe head. He also poked his eye with the pick end. He then closed his eye and poked it a couple more times! James and I were in stitches and grabbed the camera. But you know what happens when the camera appears:

Zombie Boy

Logan brings a lot of laughter to our family!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

One of THOSE Days

It has been a topsy-turvy day in many ways. This morning, while I ate breakfast, Logan bounced manically happily in the Jumparoo on loan from Elijah. ("He" traded the exersaucer for it.) After a while, I noticed his eyelids drooping. bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy Head drooping. Bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy Eyes closing. bouncy bouncy Eyes Closed. Still bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy!

I grabbed my camera, snapped a few shots and took a video. In keeping with the topsy-turvy day, it is sideways. (Youtube will only do horizontal frames and I forget and hold my camera vertical.) If you have a laptop, turn it sideways. If not, I'm sorry...

The piano music you hear in the background is Evan practicing.

This afternoon, we began the ordeal process of getting everything and everyone into the van to go to Sophie's cello lesson. CelloX ChairX Hair brushedX Socks and ShoesX CoatsX Books for boys to readX Feed LoganX ...and...Change LoganX Coat and hat for LoganX ...At this point, Evan informed me that the car seat was not in the van. I called James to inquire as to its whereabouts. He informed me that it was indeed in the van. I question Evan and find out that he meant Matthew's booster seat, not Logan's car seat. Trip still a go. Put Logan in carseatX Spit ragX CheckbookX WalletX KeysX Ask Sophie if cello and chair are FOR SURE in the back of the vanX.

We arrive at cello teacher's house. Unsack the cello...

in the bag! Nooooooooooooooooooooo! (Okay that was in my head.) Why is it that the one time I do not ask if the bow is in the bag or check myself, it is not in the bag?! All the other times that I've checked it has been there. Sigh. The teacher looked at me with raised eyebrows, blinking and shrugging. I asked, "Pizzicato?"

After Sophie's lesson was cut short by the teacher who could not think of enough to do without the bow, we drove home. I very clearly instructed two of the children to put the cello and chair inside the door, come straight back and get buckled again. One child was to get #1 the Ergo and #2 the shopping list on the refrigerator. I stayed with Logan in the van. Children ran inside.

I waited.

I tapped the horn.

One child came back. Another child appeared at the door, and I inquired as to the whereabouts of the other delinquent brother who was to come straight back. He had taken his boots off. We waited for him to reshod and get in.

We drove to the store. I reached for items to take into the store. As I picked up the "shopping list" my eyes focused on...

(That was in my head again.) My chest began to hurt.

We drove back home. The miscreant child who got the mists lixed up ran in and got the real shopping list. I looked at it carefully and turned the van back around...

We're okay, and I'm hoping that we are right side up now.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Little Cousin

Another one of my Colorado cousins has a new little baby. My cousin John--the one who used to make me play "Jump" by Van Halen on the piano over and over(a dubious accomplishment that I picked up at school), the one who taunted, "Missy's got a boyfriend! Missy's got a boyfriend!" when I went out to eat with James before we were married--welcomed his first baby girl, Piper, into the world last Saturday.


The Denver paper even reported her birth, including all the stats.

Saturday turned out to be an eventful day for the extended family as well. While John's wife, Linde, was laboring, John's sister, Julie was admitted to the same hospital for emergency surgery. Thankfully, Julie is okay and is recovering. She is not allowed to lift her baby, Elijah, for four weeks. She is planning on staying at our house for two days next week. She'll be the brains leading the homeschooling whenever I'm called upon to be the brawn for baby-lifting.


Welcome to the world baby girl! (Note the afghan that my Grandma crocheted!)