We've got a lot going on in the next several weeks, so I'm going to take a break from the blog.

Just wanted to let you know in case you check in regularly!

I'll be back at the start of September.

Blessings to you and yours for a wonderful rest-of-your summer!


Changing of the chores (Part 3)

I find boys and chores to be a difficult combination.

Is it just my boys, or do most boys get distracted from their chores? Arggh.

I feel like I have to remind them to stay on task every forty seconds. (Yes, I tend to exaggerate, but I don't even know that that's an exaggeration, some days.)

It's not that they're trying to shirk responsibility, it's just that they can so easily forget that they were even doing their chore, and begin distractedly playing some imaginary game or something.

When it comes to tidying the living room, that problem is magnified. Our living room is essentially our family room and play room in addition to being the living room, so we tidy it three times a day.

While my girls have the instinctive ability to see things, it seems my boys don't actually have that ability.

They'll walk past something-lying-on-the-floor-that-needs-to-be-put-away twelve times and simply wander around a whole lot, getting nothing done. It is truly painful to watch. They stay in the living room, but in general, a whole lot of wandering (off to play or climb or wrestle) seems to occur from both boys while Ella does the actual tidying.

I love my boys and I'm not trying to say they're daft, I'm just saying it's not their gift.

One day I had the brilliant idea (so clearly it came from the Lord) to make a game of it, so I told them we were going to pretend that I was the sergeant and they were the soldiers. I sat on the couch and directed them with my voice to a particular item, and told them exactly where to put it. And it WORKED!

That gave me the idea to make this a regular thing. So now when the kids tidy the living room, there is one "Caller" and two "Cleaners". The Caller gets to instruct, politely, the two Cleaners. And the Cleaners get to clean, cheerfully and quickly. We've been doing this for weeks and it is taking FAR less time to get this living room tidy. We rotate out the role of Caller, so that everyone gets their chance to be the "boss". And I have reminded the kids (and they now remind one another), that a good Leader (Caller) is also a good helper. (Ie: lend a helping hand, even if you are Caller for the day.)

Hooray for creative solutions!

I wish I had thought of this!

Ella, this morning: "Thank you for the note on the laundry detergent!"

Me: "What note? I didn't leave a note."

[Imagine her delight when she discovered it was from her daddy!]

Sweet Mark.

I wish I had thought of that!

Are there notes (or treats, even) you could leave out for your children today to thank them for doing their chores?

Changing of the chores (Part 2)

Did anyone notice in the previous post that Ella has been assigned the laundry chore?

As in The Laundry.

All of it.

Let me back up a minute to say that for the most part, we try to keep the same chores for our children. For instance, Isaias has been doing the garbage chore for a good long time, and I hope he'll still be doing it when he's a teenager. I like the whole idea of the kids taking ownership and responsibility over a particular area and diligently working at it, day after day- making it their own.

Ella has, up until now, been my primary helper in the kitchen (sweeping, emptying the dishwasher) along with her other responsibilities. I love that. But I also want her (and our other girls, as they get older) to become familiar with other duties around the house.

Hence, the laundry.

For this season, anyway- Mark and I have appointed Ella our Laundry Manager. Her responsibilities include sorting, washing, drying, and keeping the laundry room orderly. [The rest of us are still helping her fold, at least for now.]

It took me about two days, standing by her side, to instruct her how to work the washer and dryer. For a few days following that, she'd call me in occasionally to ask a question. But for weeks, now- she's been doing all of our laundry- three loads a day- and managing it quite well. At some point last week I scanned the laundry room to find the laundry ALL DONE. Empty hampers! And I raved about how she was better than mommy, even, at getting caught up on the laundry!

The only challenge for her has been figuring out how much laundry to put in, and whether what she loaded was a 'medium' or 'large' or 'extra large' load. But that knowledge will come with experience.

The only challenge for me (aside from being bested by my eight-year old in the laundry department ;)) has been something I've apparently taken for granted all these years: When you do the laundry, you know where things are! [And when you don't, you have no idea.] On several occasions lately, I have wanted a particular item of clothing for myself or one of the kids, and I had no idea if I should be looking in the hampers waiting to be washed, in the washer or dryer, on the clothesline, or in the clean hampers. Ella is getting better at remembering when she did what, so that's helpful.

I am so thankful for children who help with chores!

P.S. Ella *loves* her new chore!

Changing of the chores (Part 1)

We switched up the chores around here recently. We try to introduce any changes over the summer so that hopefully all the kinks are ironed out by the time school begins.

Here are our current after-each-meal chores:

Unload/load dishwasher
Sweep kitchen floor
Clean up little girls & wash trays
Meal prep

Clear her own dishes from the table
*Chickens: food, water
Laundry: collect and wash/dry
Living room clean-up (with brothers)

Table: clear and wipe table, sweep beneath table
Living room clean-up (with E & I)

Clear his own dishes from the table
*Garbage: collect and take out
Living room clean-up (with E & I)

Sit patiently in her seat until mommy decides to get her out, without throwing food or tray or utensils on the floor, or taking her bib off, or trying to feed Audra, or kicking/hitting her older siblings as they pass by.

Sit patiently in her seat until mommy decides to get her out, without throwing food or tray or utensils on the floor.

*Morning only

I initially decided that my dishwasher time would be used to train Adelia to unload/load the dishwasher with me, and I do hope to move to that at some point, but right now I'm keeping her contained during that time.

Grateful: Monday, July 12

1235 | Spending time this morning (every morning!) with my early-morning girl, while the rest of the house slept. Watching as she brought toys and books to my lap, seeing her discover things and express herself in cute little gestures and with sweet exclamations.

Words I heard her say this morning:

here 'go
dank you!

guy? (referring to Isaac's LEGO guys)
nigh-nigh (as she tucked the LEGO guys under a blanket)
bank-ee (blanket)
Jesuh? (because that's what we sing when we go nigh-nigh!)
love oo
up boo
wogee (froggy)

1236 | The blessing of my wonderful Ella, who invited the little girls to help her with her laundry chore. Having a few moments of freedom while the boys did their chores, I made a phone call to a dear friend who has been on my heart. Ella got the girls dressed- in matching outfits, no less- and took them outside. I peeked out the back door to find this:

{She pulled up those little chairs for the girls to have front-row seats as she took care of her chicken chore.}

I kept peeking, as I was on the phone, and spied this a few minutes later:

I noted that she chose our calmest hen for this endeavor, for which I am thankful. :)

She made one more trip inside with the girls to get them bundled up in sweatshirts (it's cold this morning!) and then headed back outside to play with them. How thankful I am for this precious oldest daughter of mine!

holy experience

The weeding fairy

Remember when I wrote this yesterday?
Our week has been full of backyard fun: splashing in the kiddie pool and eating meals on the patio, hanging clothing on the line to dry, mowing, sidewalk chalk and painting. And me, looking at our vegetable garden every day and wishing someone else would come and weed it. I'm still waiting. I just don't have it in me to get up and do it myself.


This morning as Mark was leaving for work, he was startled to find someone bent over in our garden, weeding away.

That someone was my mom, bless her serving heart.

And she doesn't even read my blog.

She just "had this thought" during the night that she should come up and weed our garden for us.

How blessed are we? [And how good is God to put that on her heart when it's been something both Mark and I would like to do but haven't exactly been able to?]

Three cheers for my wonderful mother!

Letter about an anniversary

Dear readers,

These past few weeks have been full! Mark and I celebrated our 13 year anniversary at the end of June. We usually try to get away for a couple of nights, but were unable to this year because Audra is still nursing, so we took a full *day* together with plans to get way overnight in September.

We headed to one of our favorite little localish towns and poked around in antique stores, ate ice cream, went to a matinee, and had a full days worth of uninterrupted conversation. That, my friends, is a rare treat. :)

We also ate great food. One of my favorite things in life is going out to eat- not just for the discovery of new good food, but because someone else makes me my food, brings it to me, and cleans up after me. And: no one interrupts me to need me to get up and get them a drink, a fork, their sippy cup, or a second helping. No one is throwing food on the floor or crying to get down from their seat because they're done. You get it. I can just sit and revel in the food and conversation and enjoy it. Ahh. For dinner we went to the Outback Steakhouse and I ordered, amongst other things, a side of their Blue Cheese Wedge Salad and have been raving about it ever since. If you've never had that salad, you need to drive to the nearest Outback right now and order it. As I was eating, I memorized the ingredients (lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese... Enough said.) and when I got home, I searched online for the dressing recipe so that I could make it here at home and have made it three times in that many weeks. It is scrumptious. And I'm totally serious about you getting to an Outback and ordering yourself that salad.

I just scanned the above paragraph for editing purposes, and am thinking how funny it is that I've just spent a whole paragraph telling you about a salad. If Mark were writing a recap of our day, he'd likely be telling you about the matinee we saw, but not me. No. I'll just talk food.

I've mentioned here before that each year for our anniversary we ask each other questions, as an evaluation of sorts. Sometimes they're specific to marriage, to us, but usually they are just questions like "What area would you like to grow in in the coming year?" This year Mark's question was: "What are you most proud of as you look back on this past year?" and then, "As you look back on this past year, what do you wish you'd accomplished?" Or something along those lines. [Mark, you can clarify in the comments what your questions actually were.] Good stuff.

It was a great day with Mark, and I am so very thankful for my mom who watched our kids so that we could get away. This was the longest I'd ever been away from Audra, and of course she did great. When we're away for any length of time, we guess what the kids' reactions will be when we get back. We're usually spot on. Audra shrieked with glee and then wanted me and would not let go for anything. Adelia hollered mommy! and daddy! and ran over to us. Isaias ran over to hug our legs. Isaac, we guessed, would be playing Legos and be bummed that us being home meant that he would not have time to finish whatever he was building. And Ella just crawled into Mark's lap and wanted to go home. So we did. Because I needed to find the recipe for The Salad.

When I began this post-that-is-a-letter, I planned to fill you in on our last couple of weeks. Me in all my chatter only got through detailing a single day.


In a nutshell: I turned 35 last week and that was great. I've been doing school planning for next year (in which I'll have a child in Kindergarten, one in first grade, and one in third grade. Oh my.) and I'm REALLY excited about many things and can't wait to share them here, when I get some more time. I think that's all.

I hope you're having a wonderful day and enjoying as much sunshine as we are here! Our week has been full of backyard fun: splashing in the kiddie pool and eating meals on the patio, hanging clothing on the line to dry, mowing, sidewalk chalk and painting. And me, looking at our vegetable garden every day and wishing someone else would come and weed it. I'm still waiting. I just don't have it in me to get up and do it myself.

Blessings to each and every one of you!