Amy Beth

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

School is in Session!

I am all about kids being kids and having lots of time for unstructured free play. I believe that is where the bulk of learning happens for little kids and I have no intentions of cutting that short in our home. 

But I also really like “school.” At least as far as it involves creative learning activities and school supplies. I’ve mentioned before here that Chris and I plan to homeschool our kids, but I’ll be honest when I say that’s only partly for the good of the kids. I also think it sounds like a ton of fun for me. During my brief foray into classroom teaching there were many things that didn’t suit me – the paperwork, the classroom management, the mulit-tasking – but the lesson planning was the part I actually enjoyed and felt like I was kind of good at. I’ve been excited to use that skill again since Charlie was born.

I’ve also been feeling for a while that it could be good to introduce a little more structure and intentionality to our day with Charlie. This kid gets plenty of free play time, but I sometimes feel like I could do a better job of making sure he gets to have certain experiences or gets exposure to certain concepts or ideas. And I know for me, that will only happen if I make a plan for it and put it in the schedule. I get the feeling that this could be especially handy when a new baby joins the family. I want Charlie to have a routine and time with mama that he can expect and depend on, and I want to have a routine in place to aim for and work back into after the baby is born. 

So. We started school today. I think it went well. We both enjoyed it and Charlie even asked to do it again when we finished. That’s a good sign, right?

School1

He’s being so studious. 

I’m trying to be realistic with expectations for this thing. I am very aware that 2 and a half is a little early to start school and that it might not work out beyond today. But I also love that there is absolutely no pressure that I succeed. I could decide to totally drop it all next week and no one would be hurt. Or probably even notice. 

Also, I’m keeping plans for school extremely light. Like maybe 15 minutes a day two or three times a week. Plans include things like calendar time, a journal, and three or four “big ideas” to focus on over the course of at least three months. 

Be watching for a more detailed post soon about my plans for the first few months of school. And probably an update on how it’s really going once the novelty has worn off. I’m interested to see how that one turns out myself. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Growth Chart

A couple years I stumbled upon a cute growth chart idea on Etsy. 

Etsygrowthchart

From Bean Signs on Etsy

I loved the simple ruler look of the charts and thought it would be a great way to record a child’s growth through the years while still looking attractive and stylish in a home. However, the charts were a little more than I was wiling to pay, and shipping for a giant wooden board was steep!

For a while I entertained the idea of just making my own. It couldn’t be that hard; just a wooden board, black paint, number stencils, and good measuring skills is all you would need. But I’m not great at getting around to crafty projects, so instead I hinted to my crafty and poor college student sister that such a thing could make a fun and affordable Christmas gift someday. Thankfully she took the hint and made us our own ruler growth chart!

Growthchart 

This past weekend I finally got it hung up on the wall in our hallway. Because I’m not a good blogger, I didn’t take pictures of the process, but it wasn’t very difficult. I simply drilled a pilot hole near the top and bottom of the board, found some long screws, and screwed it into the wall, using a level to make sure it was hanging straight. I chose to attach both the top and bottom because I didn’t want to tempt a small toddler I know into grabbing the wooden board and swinging it back and forth. 

I went back and looked at Charlie’s doctor’s records to get his height at different stages over the past couple of years. The first mark shows how tall he was when he was born. Later marks represent 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years. I’ll eventually add the heights of Chris and me, baby sister when she arrives on the scene, and possibly the dog. I’ll continue to update the chart each year as our family grows. It will be so fun so see it fill up over time!

Growthchart2

 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

These Days // 3

these days
These days we are:
discovering: that mixing two or more colors creates new colors! Usually an interesting shade of brown.

painting

painting

learning: how to write a response to a “Request for Proposal.”

listening: to “Happy.” It gets a little old for Chris and me, but Charlie LOVES it. We find it’s a great song to put on during clean up time.

watching: the mower guy. It’s fascinating for Charlie and stressful for Mabelle.

watching

preparing: to host a small group potluck. Can it still be called small when you make 30+ chicken crescent pockets?

looking: forward to a vacation to Nashville for some pre-baby relaxation and a visit with my sister.

inventing: strange concoctions for dinner. Mainly out of desperation. This beef/veggie/cous cous mixture turned out to be pretty appetising, despite it’s apprearance.

dinner

Have a happy weekend!

paint

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to keep stuff from overtaking your home

I am by no means an expert in minimalism. In fact, I default toward packrat. I’m pretty good at seeing the potential in things and I can always convince myself that there’s a really creative use for whatever stuff is taking up space in the back of the closet. But I’ve learned that for the most part, this tendency just adds extra stress to my life. What I really want is a calm and clutter free home that I don’t have to constantly clean and reorganize. So there are a few things I’ve learned that can help a packrat like me live a more minimal life.

Give your stuff physical boundaries

Anytime I find it difficult to find the space to keep my stuff, I know it’s time to purge. It’s natural to think that you just need to get more containers and boxes and storage units to hold your stuff, but in my small house I don’t have the space for those things either! So rather than try to squeeze things into the space I don’t really have, I find it’s useful to decide on the space I have first, and start filling it from there. I make sure I include the best/most useful items first and anything that doesn’t fit when I run out of space gets kicked out of the house.

One example where this has really been useful is with kid’s toys. We recently started to feel like Charlie’s toys were taking over the living room. So we gave them some boundaries. He can have the amount of toys it takes to fill one drawer in our console cabinet, the shelves on a small bookcase, and a couple of cubbies in my desk. Everything else had to go! My living room is now able to be used by adults and Charlie hasn’t missed any of his old toys!

Find a worthy cause to take your stuff

One of the hardest things about getting rid of excess stuff is getting over the feeling that you’re “wasting” it. Especially if it’s something that is perfectly useful and sometimes barely used! I’ve found that it really helps when you have a plan to give that stuff to a person, cause, or organization that will appreciate it much more than you ever did. Goodwill is always an option, but if you look a little harder most communities have ways to make donations that will go directly to people in need. For example, a homeless shelter can always use good clothing, coats, blankets, and shoes to give to the people it serves. Our town has a ministry that helps refugees set up house in their new country. These people sometimes come into our country with nothing, so donations of furniture, household and kitchen items, and bedding can go a long way to help these people get settled and comfortable. A crisis pregnancy center could make good use of all your old baby gear. Getting rid of that perfectly good set of pots and pans feels a lot better if you know it will be used by someone who really needs it.

Be honest with yourself before you start purging.

I find this tip to be most helpful when dealing with my closet. Even though I may have good intentions to mend that hole in that shirt I wore once, or make some simple alterations to make that cute dress actually fit, the truth is that I will never actually get around to doing those things. So before diving in and trying to decide what should stay and what should go, I find it’s good to think about the reality of my life. I’m not going to do any sewing. If something is uncomfortable, I won’t wear it, even if it is super cute. And if something doesn’t fit, chances are neither I or the clothes are going to magically morph size or shape. When I have some guidelines in mind it’s a lot easier to be ruthless when getting rid of things that are just taking up space.

I’m pretty sure I will foreverandalways have more stuff in my house than is necessary or useful, but I feel like over time I’ve slowly but surely started to open up the space in our home by following these guidelines. I might need to work a bit faster in the next few months though. We have to make room for a whole new person!