Date: February 2, 2012.
Players: Henry, age 6; Samuel, age 5; Kate, age 3; Becca, age 3
No disclaimers. It is what it is.
I woke up at 6:42 a.m. feeling more rested than usual. Joe forgot to set our 5:00 a.m. alarm, but neither of us were complaining. Our early mornings tend to take a toll later in the week, especially if we haven’t been very diligent about getting to bed at a decent hour. Yes, it’s been one of those weeks.
I had time to pray and read my scriptures before the kids started filtering into our bedroom. We piled on the bed for our family scripture study before the kids ran into the kitchen for breakfast. It’s oatmeal for the kids, and since I was up late last night, I decided to try Aimee’s Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oats in the slow cooker. My 4-cup Pyrex wouldn’t fit in our slow cooker, so I had to cut the recipe in half. I know the kids would like this recipe, so for the moment, I was very happy that there wasn’t enough to share! It was delicious and Joe and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We got Daddy off to work and then aliens descended and abducted my children while I was getting dressed (no shower today! Ah, sweet slumber…).
A little back story might be helpful here.
My four kids are three years apart. I’ve been in survival mode for the last three years. I feel like I’ve gotten my footing as a mom, but there are lots of things that I have to let go. Cleaning frequently is one of those things. I’ve made feeble attempts to teach my children how to clean the toilet and unload the dishwasher, etc., but what happens is that all four of my kids are eager to help at the same time. It’s just plain HARD to put shoes away, pick up books, wipe down a bathroom counter, and make a bed simultaneously, with helpers. So most of the time, I end up doing it myself because it’s faster.
A few months ago, in a moment of brilliant brainstorming, I came up with the idea to write various small chores on a little foam stars glued onto tongue depressors. There are eight for the morning and eight for the evening. Each child draws two stars at random and they have the option to put one of them back if they’re not feeling it for both chores. As we inaugurated this program, we drew one star at a time and I showed all four of them how to complete that task, and then we moved on to the next one. It worked well for a while, and then the holidays rolled around, and well, we haven’t gotten back into the groove yet.
Enter the aliens. My kids, of their own accord and smiles on their faces, divvied up the morning stars and with little assistance from me, completed their tasks. Cue heavenly chorus. Two of the four even made their own beds without any prompting!
Home Economics = A+
I was so inspired by their industry that I started sweeping the kitchen floor. Samuel, in his exuberance to take the recycled items to the outside bin, chose the low road after a rain and tracked mud all through the kitchen when he reentered the house. I needed to mop anyway, so I just thanked him for seeing that he was making muddy footprints and for taking his shoes off before he got to the carpet.
While I mopped (and perhaps hummed a little as I did so), I listened to the joyous sounds of the kids
entertaining educating themselves. For Sam and Henry, it was Engineering and Architecture (a.k.a. Legos). For Becca and Kate, it was Interpretive Dance and Drama (a.k.a. playing Dance Class and re-enacting their favorite scenes from The Parent Trap. Hailey Mills version, of course.). My, this morning is shaping up to be just heavenly.
I took advantage of the relative quiet to prep the day’s school work, and had time to work one-on-one with each of the girls before lunch. For Becca, it was the numbers 7-10 via a dinky dollar store workbook. For Kate, it was the same numbers from an identical dinky dollar store workbook, plus six pages of her Explode the Code primer. She’s in Book Two (Get Set for the Code). Becca hasn’t shown any interest in her primers, so I’ve been playing math games and doing occasional workbook pages with her. She’s cool with that.
During lunch, I directed the boys’ attention to our school wall so they could see what was on the docket for the day:
Yes, I know the chart says “What are we doing this morning?” But I am not crazy. My kids did their chores PLUS now I had a sparkling clean kitchen floor. There was no way I was about to give all of that up for grammar.
Besides, it’s the idea. The boys know that they can’t take the word strip off the chart until they’ve completed it. Time is irrelevant.
Samuel and Henry each got a private math lesson (we use RightStart A and B, respectively) before I called them both back to the table for grammar and handwriting together. We’re using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind for grammar. Today’s lesson was on aunts, uncles, and cousins (common nouns) and the special names for their aunts, uncles, and cousins (proper nouns). Samuel is using the Getty and Dubay Italic Book B for handwriting and is about halfway through; Henry finished Book B last month and now copies a sentence or two from the Narnia books for his handwriting.
We finished with enough time for me to do the girls’ hair and get them dressed in leotards and tights for their afternoon dance class before we were out the door. The boys decided ahead of time that they wanted to find a quiet corner at the rec center and read aloud to me so they could log some time on their Read to Succeed charts; they both have about two hours left before they qualify for those Six Flags tickets!
Daddy beat us home by a few minutes, so he heard all about the kids’ day while I heated up leftovers for dinner.
After dinner, it was jammie time (no baths because we just re-caulked the tub and it needed to cure) and as a reward for obeying quickly, the kids chose to watch an episode of Star Wars: the Clone Wars (or something like that!). I checked email while Joe caught up with his Wired magazine subscription. When Star Wars was over, we all piled on the couch and read stories together before brushing teeth, going potty, and getting tucked into bed for the night.
When all was quiet in the house, Joe and I worked our way through the five loads of laundry I’d managed to run through the washer and dryer during the day. We caught up and got some needed face time in while we folded, and Joe had me listen to his latest podcast so I could critique it before he sent it to iTunes. Then we got ready for bed ourselves and made sure the alarm was set for 5:00 a.m.
I’m pretty sure I fell asleep smiling. 12 hours later, and I still couldn’t get over the fact that my kids had cleaned the house and that I had a clean kitchen floor.