Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Some new systems

I am always looking for new systems. Ways to tweak something to make our home or life run just a bit more efficiently. For this new year I have come up with two new systems to help things around our casa and I thought I would share them in case they are helpful to anyone or spark a new idea!

So, the hubs and I have gone back and fourth a lot on video games with our kiddos. We aren't totally against them but we have both seen first hand how quickly they can take over people's lives and ultimately hinder their quality of life. But, we are parents who love their kiddos and want them to be happy and have fun too! So, originally we decided to get our kiddos Nintendo DSs for Christmas along with a few games. We had even purchased one already. But, as Christmas got closer we both started feeling uneasy about it and the hubs finally decided we needed to go another direction. We decided that handheld devices are just not something we want to delve into while our kiddos are young. But, we do have some video game systems (including the Sega Genesis from when I was a kid!) that the hubs and the kiddos like to play together.

All this to say, in order to come up with a good balance for video game time and well, not video game time, we have come up with a new system. We decided we didn't want to have the kids playing video games on school days but we wanted to offer some incentive and make video games a privilege. So, I came up with a little chart and in order to play video games over the weekend (max 30 minutes at a time) they have to earn check marks. They can earn three check marks a day through doing their chores, doing school work with a good attitude, and completing their quiet reading time for the day. In order to play video games they have to have 15 checks (so a perfect record). But, if they have 13 or 14 they can "earn" back those checks on Saturday morning with extra chores or jobs from mom and dad. 12 checks or less and no dice... or controller? :)

Here is the very fancy and official looking chart I made up ;)

The other little system I came up with is for my kiddos quiet reading time. In order to be a good mom, wife, teacher, etc, it is pretty much essential that I get a little quiet time in the afternoon. As an introvert at heart after having 4 little people talking to me all morning I need to recharge my battery a bit. To make their quiet reading time a bit more fun and structured I decided that they have a choice as to where they do their quiet reading time. They can do it in their bed, on the couch, or they can make a "reading nest" out of all sorts of blankets and pillows. The only catch is they have to clean up their nest afterwards. They get all the books they need and then I set the timer for one hour. This little change has made my kids super excited about quiet reading time. And the use of  a timer really helps them to not ask if they can be done!

So that's it! Nothing earth shattering but hopefully some little changes that will help things run more smoothly at our house! Have you implemented any new systems to help things run more smoothly at your house?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hello homeschool.

Here we go. Yesterday was our first day back with our Classical Conversations community and today will be our first day back with me teaching since before Christmas. I am still totally bummed that Christmas break is over but I am feeling excited about our new semester.

Over our break I spent a lot of time thinking about why we homeschool, what we have been doing, what we could be doing better or just differently, etc. I also have been re-reading my favorite homeschooling book of all time, Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson (I can't recommend this simple gem of a book enough).

I know for me, the final decision to homescool had little to do with education really. I really started considering it after finding out how large the class sizes were in our public school kindergarten classes locally, But, ultimately, I feel like I have fairly smart kids who would probably thrive in most any educational environment. And while I do believe that homeschooling has a huge benefit academically (extremely small class sizes and curriculum tailored specifically for each child!) for me my reasons had more to do with our family relationships, teaching my children from a Biblical stand point, and character training.

So, this semester I really want to get back to our "homeschooling roots" so to speak and focus on what is important. Because of that, some of my homeschool goals moving forward include:

  1. A morning meet-up time with mom and all the kiddos after chores where we all sit together to pray, work through a devotional, and connect before we hit the books. I think it will be beneficial to start our day off together, putting God first. And I also think it will be a good routine for us (as routine and structure are two things I want to improve on in our home).
  2. Right after this time I plan to read to the kids. Sally Clarkson said she always started off her day doing a devotional with the children and reading to them... that way if nothing else got done that day, it was still a successful day! I love that!
  3. In that vein, one of my goals is to focus a lot more in reading and good books in our homeschool. We will do this through lots of mom reading aloud both picture and chapter books, daily quiet reading time, and listening to audio books. 
  4. For the rest of our schooling I want to really just focus on the basics. Math, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and daily memory work review. 
  5. I want to give my kids lots of blank space to play. Room and time to play together, get bored and be forced into creativity. Give them a lot of time to play with each other. 
  6. And lastly, not worry about what other people are doing in their homeschools! It is great what everyone has the opportunity to do and we all have different priorities. For right now I want to put my blinders on and focus on what God has set before me, right now, with these 4 people.
So, we will see how it goes! I believe with God's grace and maybe a little coffee as well that this mama can have a good homeschooling semester!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Years Resolutions for 2015

I am writing this blog post from my bed. I think I pinched a nerve or something this morning because I am having terrible neck and back pain. So, I have been trying to sit or lay in whatever position is comfortable and my heating pad is my new bff. Also, my husband is amazing and has been bringing me tea. And my parents are also amazing and brought us lunch. Praying to feel better soon. Real life starts tomorrow.

I think I have always enjoyed making New Years resolutions. While I don't think there is anything "magical" about January 1st, I do think that making resolutions of the 1st helps to mark the start of the changes you want to make and helps you look back at the year in December and see what you have accomplished. I am always looking for ways to grow as a person. And I love looking back over the previous year and talking with my husband about what we have achieved or been through over the past year and how we can use what we have learned to move forward in the new year.

As I started thinking about 2015 I wasn't sure what sort of changes I wanted to make. 2013 and 2014 I found myself mostly in survival mode. Adding our sweet 4th child who came with a host of sleeping problems and what we discovered was a pretty severe gluten intolerance,.. add that to homeschooling and caring for 3 other kiddos, plus a husband who was working a lot of hours kept me just trying to make it through the day.

I definitely knew that this was the year I wanted to break out of survival mode and get back to living an intentional life. I began to think over my goals for the coming year... wake up and get ready for the day before the kiddos wake up, spend time in the Word everyday, go to bed earlier, read to my kids more, have people over to our home for dinner more often, keep up with the housework, drink more water, stay within our budget, have a weekly date night-in with the hubs... with all of my goals the word that kept popping into my mind was...

None, of the goals I made were new ones to me. They are all things I have tried to implement in my life off and on again for years. But, I have not been consistent. So, my word for this year is CONSISTENCY. I am writing down my goals and planning to focus on being consistent. Not perfect. I am not attempting to overhaul my whole life, but to set some goals that I believe will help with my daily quality of life and to strive to be consistent in those areas.

I might do more posts about individual goals and hopefully I can update more throughout the year. Maybe one of those goals should be to blog more consistently... ;) How about you? Do you pick a word? Make resolutions? Think the whole thing is just silliness (I am talking to you husband!)? ;) I would love to hear!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas 2014 Recap!

I am so sad that it is January 2nd! Christmas and New Years just flew by! I am always so sad when the holidays are over. It just feels like such a let down after all of the excitement and build up! Plus, then you have to go back to normal everyday life. Everyday life where apparently sugar cookies are not an acceptable breakfast and wearing an antler headband and jingle bell earrings to Target is looked at as odd (for the record I only did one of those things... you can guess which).

We had a really wonderful Christmas. I feel like we really hit our stride as a family and figured out what worked best for us. I feel like we had the perfect mix of fun, family time, and down time. And I didn't over-commit myself this year so our house had a much happier mama presiding over the festivities!

The Sunday before Christmas we celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family. My mom hosted the party our at their new house and it was perfect. Their new house is perfect for entertaining and looks gorgeous decorated for Christmas. Also of note is that my Uncle Ed made the most fabulous deviled eggs ever. I might have had 6.

The night before Christmas Eve our "little" family of six celebrated what we referred to as "Ramsey Family Christmas Eve". We had shrimp and ribs for dinner and played some games. Then the next morning we had "Ramsey Christmas" where we opened presents as a family and had a special breakfast. It was fun to start some new traditions as a family and our kiddos were at really fun ages this year to enjoy Christmas. We spent the day just watching movies and playing with the kiddos new toys.

That evening (Christmas Eve) we met up with my parents and sister, brother-in-law and nephew at a Japanese hibatchi restuarant. It is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. It is fun getting all dressed up and the food is always amazing. Afterwards we headed to my parents to spend the night there.  The evening consisted of huge stuffed animals, Christmas jammies, and games.

Christmas morning we opened presents with my family and then had a wonderful lunch. We were able to spend the whole day with my family enjoying time together and didn't head home until evening. I think we went straight to bed when we got home!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! I am hoping to be back with a New Years update soon!