Category Archives: Homeschool

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April Showers Crafts and Games!

It’s that time of year when we stand on the brink of sunshine and hours of outside play. So close we can almost smell it… yet it’s not quite here.

We are having one of those classic April weeks in Minnesota, where it’s too cold to play outside and every day looms of rain, so we decided to make the most of it! Today we learned all about the seasons, rain, and why there are April showers. ☺ I came up with a list of activities that would both demonstrate how rain works, and give the kids a hands on experience, plus a craft project o remember it by. It just happened that I was also able to incorporate appropriate books throughout the day to go with each activity.


The Seasons:

IMG_4136First, I chose 1 item to represent each season: a wooden snowflake, a red leaf, a small wooden flower, and a yellow circle for the sun. I placed the items in a bag and had each child reach in (without looking) to pull one out. We discussed each one and what it represented. They really enjoyed the suspense of this activity!

Then we read “When?” by Leo Lionni and “All Around Us” by Eric Carle. These were perfect! They both cover the seasons and things that happen in them. We talked about how we are in the season of spring and specifically, the month of April. In April it rains a lot so flowers can grow etc.

April and Rain:

IMG_4139Next, we moved to the dining room table where I placed a large mason jar filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water. I placed a plate on top and let it sit for a few minutes while we discussed how and why rain works. You can read more about it HERE. Next, I set 8-10 ice cubes on the plate. Within a few seconds, we could see a gentle mist coming down the jar from the bottom of the plate which looked like a light rain. They loved it!

Making their own rain clouds:

IMG_4142I filled a large clear container half full with water and added only 2 drops of blue food coloring. I wanted them to see the blue, but I didn’t want it to stain anything. ☺ I gave them each a container with cotton balls, a piece of paper, and tongs. If you don’t have enough tongs, we also used 2 matching serving forks and 2 matching serving slotted spoons. These may have even been easier. :-D I would also cover your workspace with a towel—everything got quite wet.

I explained that their cotton balls were clouds and they needed to fill them with water to become rain clouds. They dropped the cotton balls into the blue water, let them get wet and then set them on the paper to make designs. They LOVED this!! Before long, the cotton balls were back and forth and everywhere else. They wrung them out with their hands and started the process again. Everybody was wet, but they did this for about half an hour. Very fun activity that serves as a great visual for rain!

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I gave each child a piece of cardstock with a simple cloud drawn in the top portion. I had them fill it with Elmer’s glue and then cover it with cotton balls. Next we discussed how rain comes out of rain clouds, so they made their rain with the glue. I then sprinkled blue glitter on their rain, poured off the excess, and Voila! Beautiful rain coming down from their clouds. They were pretty giddy about all that glitter—especially since I was doing this with 4 little girls. ☺

IMG_4147Listening Walk:

It just happened that it wasn’t raining this afternoon, so we decided to get outside for a few minutes—it was still cold! :-D I wanted the walk to go with our spring theme though, so we read, “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers, then we got bundled up and headed out for our own listening walk. This was a lot of fun. All of the kids noticed things they had never noticed before. We discovered a lot of unique and new sounds as well finding some new life on trees and in plants. They were surprised to see and hear so many of the signs of spring we had been learning about.

FullSizeRenderOther books we read to go with the theme:

“Dora’s Serach for the Seasons” by Samantha Berger

“A Bunny for all Seasons” by Janet Schulman

“My Spring Robin” by Anne Rockwell

“Wee Little Lamb” by Lauren Thompson

Coloring Pages:

We finished the day with a couple of coloring pages that coordinated with the theme. I just got them off Google images and turned them into coloring sheets.

Soon the luster of spring will be here and we will miss these cold rainy days to do projects inside our home. I love the opportunities to take advantage of these less than desirable times! ☺

Happy Spring!

-Lydia

 

Resurrection Day Invitation to Play – Easter Crafts

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During a season of bunnies, chicks, and eggs, it can be hard to direct our children toward the real meaning of Easter. This year, I wanted something that was hands-on and interactive but not a typical craft project. I came up with an Easter Invitation to Play that was God focused and reviewed many of the truths we have been learning the last few weeks.

I think there are a lot of ways to do this, but here’s what we used. You can tweak this to adapt to your materials and needs.image

White Play dough
Green Play dough
Three toothpicks or small sticks to serve as crosses
Pom-poms or small flowers
A strip of fabric or paper
Small pieces of paper or stones where you have written examples of sins
The bottom portion cut out of a cup

imageI gave each of the kids a plate with the above items. We have been learning all about the crucifixion and the resurrection so it was all very fresh in their minds. Before we began this portion though, we sat down and discussed the fact that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. He was perfect and did not have to die to take the consequence for his own sin. He died for us: it was our sin that paved the way to the cross. I wanted them to understand the significance of this truth. I had very small pieces of paper, maybe half inch by half-inch, and we wrote a different sin on about 30 of them. This was significant and they really understood it. Therefore, when they each received their plate with the items to use for the invitation to play, they each had about eight of the papers with sins. I explained that they were going to set up the scene however they would like. The toothpicks could be used as crosses, the white Play dough could be used to create a tomb and to cover the cup portion, or they could use the cup portion as the tomb and the white Play dough as the stone. I explained that the pom-poms could be flowers, or some other type of decoration. They could use the strip of paper as a road or some type of pathway. They could even use it as a linen cloth to wrap up a pom-pom to serve as Jesus. :-) The green Play dough could be used as grass or as a hill for the crosses to sit on. The one thing I told them I wanted them to include for sure was the pathway of sins. They all thought this made a lot of sense and were excited to dig in!

imageThey worked on this project for probably close to an hour, and came up with all sorts of scenes. I think it really helped to solidify the truths that we have been learning this week in a hands-on experience where they could actually do something with what they have been learning. I hope that you find this to be just as profitable with your kids!

Happy Easter!

-Lydia

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Sun Catchers Craft

​As we gear up for spring, (and that extra hour of sunshine!) the kids and I did this great craft project I have to share with you! It’s cheap, easy, and makes a great gift to brighten someone’s day. We made sun catchers.

What you need:

• Contact paper
• Tissue Paper
• Ribbon
• Hole Punch
• Scissors
• Small suction cup with hook

​Simply trace a circle onto contact paper with a little hump on the top. It will look similar to a Christmas ornament.

​Cut out 2 of them for each sun catcher.

​Cut out several small squares of multi colored tissue paper.

​Peel the backing off the contact paper. This takes a bit of patience…

​Have the kids place their tissue paper squares all over the sticky side of the contact paper. My 13 month old did this no problem and loved it!

​When it’s full, place the matching contact paper circle on top. Line it up best you can, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

​Trim around the edges. This will catch the tissue paper hanging off the edges and is also an easy way to even out the circles.

​Punch a hole in the center of the hump part at the top.

​String a short thin ribbon through the hole and tie it in a loop.

​Hang on a window with a suction cup that has a hook. They sell 10-12 packs at Dollar Tree.

​These make great gifts to brighten someone’s day!

​Enjoy the sunshine!!
- Lydia

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Daylight Savings Activities for Kids

Daylight Savings Time: The dreaded day when we lose an hour of precious sleep and our kids schedules are changed for the next 7 months. I got to thinking though; why not use the opportunity to teach my children? They are currently 1, 2, and 4, with the girls I nanny filling in the gaps at 3 and 5, but it’s a great opportunity to teach them about Daylight Savingsastronomy, time telling, reading the calendar, seasons, and more!

Here’s what we did!

First, I pulled out a toy that happens to have a large clock face with movable hands on one side. You could use a real clock, a toy, or make your own. We discussed times they are familiar with such as when they wake up in the morning, lunch time, bedtime, and so on. Next we went through a full day hour by hour and I explained how the clock cycles through all the numbers twice each day. We talked about when it’s light outside, when it’s dark and some key times in the winter vs. summer when it’s light or dark. Once they were fully synced with me on the subject, I took them into the concept of daylight savings time: why we do it and how it works. I showed what it looks like to fall back and spring forward on the clock and how that would affect the times of day they are familiar with. They were fascinated and had a decent understanding of everything. To enforce the concept, we played some games.

Game #1

IMG_3798I had the kids stand shoulder to shoulder on a line in our home. You could make one with masking tape. When I said “Fall Back!” they had to take a giant step backward. When I said, “Spring Forward!” they took a giant step forward. Each time I gave the command and they responded, I gave a high five to those who had responded correctly. That was plenty of incentive for them. We did it several times until they were all getting it correct each time and there were plenty of giggles. ☺

Game #2

IMG_3802I had them all sit Indian style on the living room floor. When I said, “Fall back!” they flopped onto their backs. I had them sit back up, and sit Indian style again. When I said, “Spring forward!” they flopped onto their tummies. We didn’t play this one as long as the other, but they still loved it!

 

 

Craft #1

They colored this picture. Isn’t it cute? I felt like it summed everything up perfectly!

Craft #2

FullSizeRenderWe made pocket watches. The kids needed a tactual way to remember all we had learned, so what better project than to make a clock of some sort? You could do anything, but I thought these were super cute!

First, draw 2 circles near each other on colored paper. I used construction paper, but colored paper would hold up better. Connect your circles to create a book type look. I guess it almost looks like a pair of glasses if that helps. Cut them out all connected.

Draw a smaller circle on plain white paper and cut it out as well.

Glue the white circle to one side of the colored circle.

Write the numbers of a clock face around the white circle.

IMG_3805Cut out 2 tiny arrows, one slightly larger than the other, on black paper. I was disappointed with how well the construction paper held up, so another option might be better. Use a safety pin to prick a whole through both arrows and the center of the clock face and back of pocket watch. This will make it so much easier when you poke your brad through it. Make sure the hole is a good ways down the arrow sticks so they don’t rip through when you insert your brad.

Next, poke your brad through both arrows and the clock and backside of your pocket watch.

Lastly, feel free to decorate the pocket watch and enjoy!

We did one last craft project to welcome the extra hour of sunlight each day, so come back on Friday to read about that one. ☺

Even if we are about to lose an hour of sleep, at least we have the opportunity to teach our children so many concepts leading up to it! ☺Daylight Savings Time Spring Forward Coloring

-Lydia

 

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Valentine’s Day Game

With Valentine’s day quickly approaching, I wanted an opportunity to teach my kids about the most important love of all—God’s love. I wanted it to be interactive and kind of fun, so we went on a treasure hunt!

To start everything off, I had each of the kids make their own mailbox using this site. This is completely unnecessary, but so cute and was definitely a special touch. They could just as easily use little treasure chests, bags, buckets, or nothing at all.

I explained that last night I had gone on a treasure hunt through God’s Word, the Bible. I had gone looking for treasures about God’s love and I was going to share with them what I found. In order to find those treasures though, they had to go on a treasure hunt through our house! ☺

I had them leave the area with their mailboxes while I hid 14 prepared hearts around the first floor of our home. Each heart had a different truth about God’s love written on it. Here is my rough list if you want to copy the concepts. I’m sure there are others though!

God’s love is Everlasting
God IS love
He loved us first
God’s love never changes
He showed it to us when he died for us
He loves it when we do good
God loves the world
God loves Jesus
God loves to be an example for us
God’s love is an example to us
God has the greatest love and He showed it when Jesus laid down his life for us
Nothing can separate us from God’s love
God’s love is great
God’s love is overflowing

After they found all the hearts and had them carefully stashed in their mailboxes, we met on the floor in the living room to discuss their treasures. We simply went around the circle and each child pulled out one heart at a time. We discussed the concept found on that heart and interacted a bit about the truth that was there. We continued until all the truths had been discovered. At the end, we reviewed what we had learned about the treasure of God’s love and how His love was unlike any other love.

I encouraged them to keep their hearts in their mailbox with the flag up, so they could send their treasures to someone else who would like to know about the great treasure of God’s love. They each left the room excited about the depth of His love and eager to share their treasures with others!

 

-Lydia

 

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Valentines Day: Who God Loves Craft

The kids and I have been learning about God’s love this week as we prepare for Valentine’s day. It’s important to me that whenever we learn about Valentine’s day or love that we start with God’s love. We have covered different aspects of God’s love, but today I wanted them to have an interactive picture of WHO God loves so they would understand that God’s love is limitless and applicable to those they know and even those they don’t know.

What you need:

  • White paper
  • Colored paper in a few different colors if you want
  • Ribbon
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Scissors

What to do:

I cut cloud shapes out of the white paper to represent God. We talked about how He is in heaven beyond the clouds. The clouds were about ¼ a sheet of paper in size. I wrote the first portion of I John 4:10 on them to demonstrate how God loved us before we even loved Him. There are many verses that would work for this though! You could even just do I John 4:8 which says, “God is Love.” I had the kids say the verse with me as I wrote it on the paper. This kept them involved and helped them begin to memorize it. They each also chose their own color of marker. If they are older, they can write it themselves.

Next I laid out my multicolored hearts which I had cut into 2 sizes. They each picked several. I had them tell me different people they knew. They loved this and were excited to tell me everyone! This took a while. ☺ We wrote each name on a different heart.

Next I gave them each 3-4 pieces of ribbon to tape onto the back of their cloud.

Then we attached each heart to the ribbon with tape. The idea is God’s love reaching down to each person.

Lastly, we reviewed how God loves each person with an everlasting, unchanging, and overflowing love. And He loves them with the same kind of love, no matter what.

The kids really got the point of this craft and they were excited to have a visual of some of the people God loves.

In this is love, not that we have loved God

but that he loved us

and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

 

-Lydia

 

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Snowman Sensory Bags

The kids and I have been enjoying snowman themed activities, crafts, and games throughout the month of January, but today’s activity was especially fun!

We made Snowman Sensory bags. I had never realized before that this concept was even possible, but I might be hooked. I’m sure there will be more homemade sensory bags to come, but for today, here’s the snowman one. ☺

I got the idea from THIS website and followed it pretty closely with a few alterations.

Here is what you’ll need (items listed are for each child):

  • Ziploc bag
  • Scotch tape or packing tape (we ended up using Scotch and it was perfect)
  • Staplerblog snowman bags
  • Cut out Foam eyes, nose, and buttons (or something to create a snowman in the bag) The eyes and buttons were about the size of a penny I that helps.
  • Cut out Foam or felt hat—not necessary, but fun. The main part of the hat covered the width of the bag and then the flat part stuck out the sides
  • About 2 oz. clear hair gel
  • About ½ cup water
  • About 2 teaspoons glitter

#1. I reinforced the 3 sides of each bag with Scotch tape making sure to fully cover the corners. While I did this, the kids and I discussed the 5 senses and what senses would be used on our sensory bag.

#2 I let each child squeeze about 2 oz. of clear hair gel into their bag while I held it open. They LOVED this part as we used our entire bottle and it made lots of funny noises!

#3. I poured in about 2 teaspoons of glitter into each bag while they held it open.

#4. I poured in slightly less than ½ cup water into each bag while they held it open.

#5. I sealed each bag and let them smush everything around inside to mix it up. They loved this part and were getting eager for the finished product. ☺

#6. Next, I explained the snowman pieces and what they were supposed to look like when laid out properly. I gave each child their pieces to put in their bags.

#7. I had each child wipe the tops of their bags with a piece of paper towel to ensure it was dry and free of stickiness.

#8. I got out as much air as I could and securely resealed each bag.

#9. I sealed the top of each bag with Scotch tape (just to be safe.) ☺

#10. I stapled the hat to the top of each bag being sure to ONLY staple above the zipper seal.

And then the kids were ready to squish and smush away!!

The little ones did need help adjusting their foam pieces into the correct position, but when I explained some other options of ways to arrange them, they were pretty happy to just have fun with it.

I like that this is a craft project they can really use and even learn from. A welcome winter craft! I hope you enjoy it too! ☺

 

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Christmas Tree Craft for Toddlers!

​This year, we are blessed to have a 10 month old at Christmastime. In many ways, I have felt like she’s a bit left out of the fun activities and is often told, “Don’t touch!” The other night, she got sick, so I stayed home from church with her. This gave me some time to think of a Christmas activity that maybe SHE could do

​I had seen the general idea of making a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments for toddlers on Pinterest, but I felt like it was a lot of time and money to invest. Regardless, I opened my fabric drawer and was surprised to discover several squares of felt left from my nesting days of her pregnancy. (For Naomi’s pregnancy I got SUPER creative and crafty!) I only had 1 dark green felt square, but it was fully intact, so I went for it.

​First, I folded my dark green square in half and used a black permanent marker to draw one side of a pine tree, being sure to cover the entire thing and therefore, make it as big as possible. I like that it can be done with just one square to save money and time—and space. I mean really, how many busy moms are going to stop at an EXTRA store just to buy a few yards of green felt?! You can buy the squares at Walmart while tackling the rest of your shopping.

​With my tree completed, I had planned to just cut various shapes out of the other colors to give her ornaments to hang, but then I remembered a container of small Christmas cookie cutters I had purchased on clearance years ago and never used! Perfect! And they really were. There was a variety of shapes and just the right size. We were able to hang 9-10 on the tree with space to spare and they were big enough that she wouldn’t eat them.

 

​I simply traced the ornaments with WASHABLE marker onto the felt. I discovered the hard way that permanent is, well… permanent on the cookie cutters. Oops! The washable just wipes off the cookie cutters and rubs off the felt. Another perfect idea! I guess I was on a roll. J

 

​When everything was done, I simply used Scotch tape and attached the tree to our refrigerator. I’m sure other things might work better, but that has worked surprisingly well—and it’s cheap.

 

​Start to finish, the project probably took about 20 minutes and used all items I had on hand. If you were to buy the felt squares, I’m guessing you could do the whole thing for $1-$2. It’s a great and cheap way to involve your little one in the Christmas season and will also keep her busy while you to accomplish all of your extra holiday tasks!

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Our Fun Timeline! (K-4 or K-5)

The kids and I are doing American History this semester!

And one of the fun things we’ve been working on is an easy hand-on timeline.

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- Print off some pictures of people we’ve been learning about. (The web is filled with free coloring sheets. I just google their names.)

- Color Them

- Cover them with packing tape (to laminate – but way cheaper)

- Cut out the peopleimage

(- The kids get to play with theirs [Reinforcing what we've learned])

-I put to mine on the timeline

That’s it! It’s easy and fun to do each week – and has added a lot to our History!image

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

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I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

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Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

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Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

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I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity