Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hopefully Helpful Random Thoughts and Ideas

A friend called me the other day, she had found my blog and had been trying to figure out what she wanted to implement in her home.  "A lot of your entries on this were from more than a year ago, so I'm wondering what had worked and what you are still doing."

I made sure to tell her that my blog is often my ideal of what I would like to do and what I feel strongly about, but that not all of my ideas stick at first and sometimes I have to revisit them later or just accept that they aren't going to work for my family.

So this post is a little view at what we're doing now.  It is all a work in progress and I'm sure things will continue to change (for the better hopefully!)

One of my favorite things is our morning music.  It is our variation of "Miracle Music".  If you're not familiar with Miracle Music - basically you get an instruction: "Time to make you bed" and then you have until the end of a song (or more depending on the task) to finish.  If you finish before the music ends, you get a point for that task.  I heard about Miracle Music before I started homeschooling from my great friend, Angela.  She told me how her variation of it was working so well at her house, and it sounded nice, but I guess I didn't think it sounded nice enough to actually implement it.  So I forgot about it and recently another friend mentioned how well it was working at her home.  She was just using the CD and varied it slightly, like if her family needed more time for breakfast she would just play the breakfast songs twice.  Ordering the CD seemed much easier than trying to create my own, so I figured I could give it a try.  Our biggest problem with family work was staying on task.  The kids knew what to do, and would generally get it done, but it would take so long as they distracted each other throughout the morning.

The CD was incredible.  It helped all of us (including me!) to stay on task through the morning.  Finally, since it was working so well, I figured it was worth making my own adaptation of the concept.  If we were listening to the same thing every morning, I wanted to choose what that would be.  I recorded the kids voices saying what the next task was and I chose some great learning songs (like the Declaration of Independence, The Preamble, The Gettysburg Address, The books of the scriptures, The Articles of Faith) as well as some songs that invite the Spirit to our work (like If the Savior Stood Beside Me, Nephi's Courage, etc).  I am so happy with how fast we are getting our work done and how good everyone is staying on task.  Our tasks are:
1. Make Bed
2. Clean Room
3. Clean Zone
4. Put Pajamas away and Get Dressed
5. Animal Care
6. Weekly Job
7. Monthly Job
8. Breakfast Job
9. Eat Breakfast
10. Breakfast Clean up
11. Brush Teeth
12. Do Hair and take a shower (if needed)
12. Ask Mom to Check your Work
13. Ask Mom what else she needs

I want to make an evening one too, but I haven't gotten to it yet.  If you like details to spur your own ideas, here are our weekly jobs

Mon: Car and Clean Animal Cages
Tues: Bathrooms
Wed: Straighten Hall closets
Thr: Mopping
Fri: Vaccuuming
Sat: Project (ask dad)

Here's our monthly jobs (the kids pick one from the list daily (except Wednesdays) until we've done all of the list.  Then we start over.

Windows, Sills and Blinds
Kitchen Drawers
Kitchen Cupboards
Bathroom Drawers
Bathroom Cupboards
Bedroom Dressers and Drawers
Bedroom Closets
Chicken Coupe
Walls and Doors
School Supplies
Craft Room
Sheets and Pillow Cases
Paper Work/Junk Drawers
Game and Movie Closet
Special Bins/ Backpacks/ Purses
Toy Room

The whole thing takes 2 hours (if you don't count the 30 minutes of instrumental hymns that play to wake them up and remind them to read scriptures before the tasks start). 

Ideally, we start the CD at 6:30 am and we're done by 9am.  But there's been some glitches in the system.  First of all, I've been trying to get up early to do yoga, but James has been waking up at night lately so I sleep in.  I do yoga anyway, but then the CD doesn't get started until closer to 8.

The other problem is that sometimes making breakfast (depending on what's made) or monthly jobs take longer than the 14 minutes given to each by the music, so the kids ask if they can pause it since they were working hard the whole time.  I say yes, of course, but then we're done closer to 10 or 11 (especially because we often forget to turn the music back on and then we take 1 hour to eat breakfast instead of the 20 minutes that is given us by the music).

But overall it's working great!  I love to see everyone happily working as the music plays and staying on task and trying to beat the music to get done early.  There's something to knowing that the work will end when the music does that motivates you to get it done.

After morning music the kids do their "Skill Practice": Math, Piano, Writing, or whatever other skills they are working on).  Those that get done before devotional get free time.

Around noon, I put the baby (and sometimes the toddler) to bed and we have devotional.  We sing, pray, and do a lesson from The Family School while we snack.  Ideally, we would do this everyday except Wednesdays, but it's usually more like 3 times a week.

After Devotional (Ideally around 12:30, but usually around 2), the children have their free time and they go read, explore outside, study, play sports, play some imagination game together, etc.

Rock gets home around 3:30 and I start dinner and we eat around 5.  Then we clean up, get ready for bed and do our family reading ideally around 7, but usually around 8.  After the family reading, we tuck the kids into bed (again, ideally around 8, but they always seem to want to have long conversations at night and usually they go to bed around 9).

That's pretty much the plan of our day most of the time.  Most mornings are pretty routine and afternoons are more flexible  (like Tuesdays for piano, Wednesdays for our groups or Fridays for choir and sometimes Thursdays for art).  Usually that means I get less prep time for dinner and the kids get less free time, but they enjoy what they do, so I guess it is sort of like free time since it is what they are choosing to do with their time.

 I have no idea why any of this would be of interest to anyone, but I know I enjoy hearing other people's schedules and getting ideas for my own.  In fact, probably most of what I do came from hearing other people's ideas and then getting inspiration as to how to apply them to our family, so hopefully some of these borrowed ideas will be of help to someone else.

I think I'm still applying the Headgates principles for the most part.  I have allowed a few more toys and clothes then when I first go rid of things, but I think I try to keep things pretty simple still.  We still don't have battery powered toys and we try to get rid of things pretty often.  We no longer have "screen time" for two hours on Saturdays, but we do let the kids watch something when Rock and I go on a date, so I guess we just moved screen time to a more convenient time.  We also allow a movie if it's something we are watching as a family, but that doesn't happen very often.

Speaking of movies, I recently saw The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Life of Pi and Lincoln.  I must have been on a movie kick.  I have to say that Timothy Green was better than I expected.  I loved the message that family is the most important thing and that we should take our parenting seriously.  It's a message most needed in our culture.  Life of Pi was great.  I loved the message.  I would recommend it, although I wouldn't take my kids to see it since there is some difficult suffering (especially of animals) that they would not like to see.

Lincoln left me thinking...  I thought I liked it, but upon further reflection I wasn't so sure.  I thought Lincoln's character seemed to be fairly portrayed.  I enjoyed the dramatization of that period of time and how it must have been to be in such a difficult position.  I even thought the politics were interesting and fairly portrayed.  I loved so much of the thought-provoking dialogue. After thinking about it, though, what bothered me was the underlying message through the whole film that the ends justify the means - that it is okay to use your power to get what you want if it is for a good purpose.

It is a dangerous message.  It can be true message.  If someone with a pure heart is sincerely doing God's will, then he must do it - no matter what stands in his way.  However, most people do not have a pure heart, but they do have causes that they believe in.  A message like this in our day, could be very dangerous, as there is already an abuse of power in high places to get what they believe are righteous ends.  Only they and God can examine their hearts, but I fear a message like this may be misleading to them and anyone in a positition of power.

In my opinion, there was not enough done to show the pureness of Lincoln's heart.  You didn't see him pray in the movie, though it was a regular part of his life.  There is one part that looks like he may be praying as he sits on a chair and looks down at his hat and then he looks up and makes a decision, which after some discussion with some young men, he decides against and does something different.  There is one other time I remember someone praying.  It was right before a vote on the 13th ammendment, and after his prayer he votes against it.  I wonder why the two instances in which prayers are offered in the movie seem to lead to wrong choices.

The other thing I did not like was the very violent war scene at the beginning of the movie.

Anyway, I think that is it for my movie reviews ;-)

I have been reading an incredible book about how to parent.  I think every parent should read it.  It's though to get through in one sitting, but I would recommend buying it and reading a section every day.  It is full of great thoughts and truths.  It has opened my eyes to see more clearly the nature of the spirit and how to nurture that spirit to walk in the light.  It is called Gentle Measures by Jacob Abbott.  Thank-you to my friend who recommended it!  I would love to have a book discussion on it with someone.  Anyone up for it?

I recently read a book called Following the Light of Christ into His Presence by John Pontius.  I read it after a friend told me that it changed her life.  Knowing her to be a person who is incredibly close to the spirit, I decided I better read this life-changing book.   I would agree that it is life-changing in that it opens your eyes to see some gospel truths so much more clearly in how to hear and obey God's voice.  I heard him speak at the women's retreat I attended a little while ago and I enjoyed his sincerity and desire to share the truths he has come to understand.  I bought another of his books "The Triumph of Zion" - I am looking forward to getting to it!

We just finished reading Yearning for the Living God by F. Enzio Busche as a family.  It embodied the truths I leaned in Following the Light of Christ and how we often live far below our potential.  We really enjoyed learning from this true disciple of Christ and his experiences.

My latest goals are to pray more sincerely - to pour out my soul unto God daily and put forth my sincere efforts to exercise my "spiritual muscles" (faith) by hearing and obeying his voice more diligently.  I want to rid my heart of all contention and watch it spread to my family.  It's a tall order, but I am feeling great joy as I try and increased gratitude for my Savior as I become more keenly aware of my rebelliousness (my choice not to think before I act sometimes) and weaknesses.  I feel such joy in so many moments in my life and I am just so grateful for this mortal experience.

I think that is enough random thoughts for now.  I really should try to just write more often so I don't have to try to fit so much into one blog post, but I can't seem to find much time these days.  Life is quite the adventure!