The Irritation List (or Keeping Your Sanity)

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Here’s a little project that really helped me focus years ago.

I remember Rick coming home one evening. I had several kids at the time- probably 5 or 6. He asked how my day had been and I told him not so good.  It seemed like a thousand things went wrong. When he asked me what they were, I couldn’t really focus on what they had actually been– there were just a lot of them.

So he told me the following day, whenever I was irritated by something, to write it down in a notebook. I thought, “ok, but I’ll be writing all day long!”  What I actually discovered the next day was that it was only a few things that were frustrating me, but they kept happening again and again.

These were some of my irritations:

1-One of my sons, not intending to cause problems at all, would fling the door open and holler, “MOM” so he could discern where I was. It was not only irritating to be hollered at, but sometimes it woke the baby who had been difficult to get to sleep in the first place.

2- Also, when putting the laundry away, I reached up to put jeans on the stack on the closet shelf and the whole tippy stack came falling down on my face.

3- After school I told the kids to put their books away. Everyone seemed to need help because the bookcase was crammed with books and they wouldn’t just go in easily. The pages were getting bent, too.

4- Another of my sons seemed to think it was his place in life to irritate the others, and he was good at it. I’d hear his name whined out loudly by the toddler multiple times during the day.

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 50 Rainy Day Activities for Kids

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Rainy Days getting you down?

It’s true- after a few days of rainy weather, the kids are just bored and full of energy, and you feel worn out trying to keep them occupied.

Here’s a few ideas to spark some new interest and add a little fun to these otherwise gloomy days.

All these ideas cost very little, or nothing at all, and they can all be done from the comforts of home.

I have included some activities for all ages- preschool, elementary age, and even teens. (plus it always amazes me what little ones can do if they see the older ones doing it.)

We’ve used so many of these ideas in our own home over the years!

You might even see your kids all excited when a rainy day comes!!

1. Bubble stuff– let them don raincoats and step out to blow bubbles in the rain

2. Play dough

Here’s a less crumbly type of play dough you can make, and the kids will enjoy helping to make it and choose their favorite color to distinguish theirs from everyone else.

  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • few drops liquid food coloring
  • 3 Tbsp. cooking oil

Mix and cook in saucepan on medium heat until mixture coagulates into a ball. Cool. Store in air tight container.

3. Outlining– gather a bunch of objects- jar lids, combs, Popsicle sticks, cookie cutters, bottle tops, containers, etc. and let the kids place them on a sheet of paper and trace around their outlines.

4. Gluing shapes– cut a bunch of rectangles, circles, squares, triangles, and so on from construction paper and use glue sticks to glue them down in creative arrangements. If you have older kids, they can cut the shapes out for you.

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My House is Quiet Now

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Rick and I used to joke whenever we’d sing the hymn Blessed Quietnesssaying, “hey, what is that?!” Quietness was not something you often experienced in our home. I remember times when the noise was so overpowering that I’d call a quiet time. That meant everyone had to sit quietly, read or play a quiet game for a specified period of time just to give mom a time to collect her thoughts.  It wasn’t always chaos but when you have 16 people living in the same house, it’s just not quiet. It’s busy. It’s active. There’s always something going on.

Well, things have changed now. I only have 2 kids living at home. Those 2 kids have jobs and interests and commitments and more often than not, my house is REALLY quiet. I’ve had a couple of occasions lately when a friend has stopped by and comments, “Wow, it just seems weird that your house is so quiet now.”  It is weird ,and I’m not sure I like it. It has it’s advantages sometimes,(it’s easier to concentrate when I write for instance)  but I LOVED experiencing life with my growing kiddos. I am proud of every one of them for the people they’ve turned out to be, but I do miss being mommy to little people.

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Summer Time Tip: Assign Chores for Next School Year

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Summer is always the time I would reassign chores to each of my kids.

I made a master list of everything that needed to be done in our home on a regular basis. Then each summer, I would run off a new copy of the list and evaluate who in our home was the best choice for each chore for the next year.

The reason I did this in the summer was because that was the best time for training each child in the chore they were responsible for. It doesn’t work to just say, “Go clean the bathroom”, for instance. Your child will do what they think makes it clean but they need to be instructed and trained as to how to do it correctly.

It’s kind of fun to change up the chores each year so everyone learns how to do all the chores eventually, and since we’re not doing school in the summer, I took that time to train everyone. By training them in their chores in the summer, the school year would flow more smoothly, rather than having to train in chores as well as doing school work.

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Quick Tip For Making Chore Time Fun

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Here’s an idea from a couple of our customers; we love it!

I’ve always said, if you can turn something dry or mundane into something creative and fun, do it! We’ve looked for ways to do this as we’ve raised our kids. For instance, folding laundry for 16 people can be quite monotonous ( I speak from plenty of experience!). To make the chore more bearable, Kelley, Kasey and I would fold together while we watched an educational video. Sure, it took a little bit longer to get the job done, so we couldn’t do it every time, but sometimes we’d multi-task and stimulate our brains as we got the job done.

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Christmas Memories

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This past Christmas, our son Nate posted a lovely tribute to us on Facebook. He shared some of his Christmas memories as a child growing up in a very large family with not much money.

I wanted to share it with you to offer encouragement to the parent who feels like they can’t possibly be doing anything right; to the parent who is struggling financially; to the parent who wonders if their kids will ever realize how much you love them.

Keep doing right. Stay the course. Your kids are watching and observing, even when you don’t realize it!

From Nate: (Age: 39)

Christmas memories: “I’ve been reflecting the past few days on how my parents made Christmas special for us. Our grandparents lived hundreds of miles away and times were very tight when I was little, much tighter than I knew at the time, so Mom and Dad had to make Christmas special for us on their own for the most part.

I was so excited by Christmas as a kid I had very little idea that it was a time of extra financial pressure for them. Or how much Dad felt it and covered it up for our sake. I remember times when he gave us used toys or tools, at least for some of our gifts. I just thought he gave us those things because they were really cool. I had no idea that it was difficult for him to get into the spirit because he was struggling so hard, doing a humble business in the construction trades, doing work that didn’t excite him as a people person, all the while the pressure to feed a growing family weighing upon him.

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10 Favorite Books for Family Reading Time

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10-favorite-books

Rick tried to read to our kids most nights as they were growing up. These books I’m sharing with you today were all-time favorites. I know some of my kids have done the same with their kids, too. 

What better Christmas gift could you give than books you can read together as a family?

1. The Little House Books- The Early Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder- Ok, I guess this first favorite isn’t just 1 book. It’s a whole series of 9 books! We have spent many pleasant hours as a family reading through the “Laura books” and reading them over again. The stories are wonderful classics of years-gone- by and the strong bond of a loving family through the good and bad times- perfect to read aloud as a family.

little-house-set

 2.  James Herriot Treasury for Children– Another family favorite has been the James Herriot books. Rick has read selected stories from these books to the family. We were glad to see a children’s version come available. Sweet, heart-warming stories based on the vet’s experience in the Yorkshire hills.  Some are hilariously funny and others sweet.

james-herriot

 

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Finding Quiet Times with God in a Busy Household

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quiet-times-with-god

(Note: I actually wrote this article 6 years ago. So much has changed in that short time. Kids have grown up, and moved out. More grand babies have been born. Rick’s work schedule has changed. But, I thought it might be more helpful for you to still hear it this way- the way that life was for me when I wrote it-  rather than tell you what it’s like now with only 3 kids still at home, and only 1 still homeschooling.  Seasons change so quickly. If you feel overwhelmed at the season you are in now, hang on. A few years bring with them many changes.)

I dream of a capacious house full of rooms and lots of storage places. Central in that dream is my “quiet room”- a room with thick insulation and a skylight under which is a big comfy recliner just waiting for me to plunk down in it and read my Bible, pray and meditate, uninterrupted. As I look up through the skylight, I view the puffy cumulus clouds drifting by in the midst of a beautiful blue sky- a perfect scenario for meditating on the riches of God’s inexhaustible Word. Nearby is my bookcase, full of study books and concordances and a spacious desk on which I can leave my books spread out when not in use and ready to pick up again where I left off.

That’s my dream, but it’s not a reality-not in this season of my life! I’m a mom of 14 blessings… yes, blessings! I wouldn’t trade any one of them for all the solitude in the world, but I must confess, there are times I would like to experience, as the song goes “Blessed Quietness”! It happens only at very unusual times in my bustling household-like maybe after 11pm or midnight???

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Tips for Tackling the Laundry Pile

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laundry-pile

Laundry is a job that is never done, and often it can be a thankless job. I’m sure you understand! Just when you’re (finally) caught up, everyone comes home, takes a shower, and boom- the laundry room is full again!

However, it must be tackled. So, here are just a few simple tips that worked for me; maybe they will help you too!

Sock bags- Why is it that it seem like the washer must eat socks? When you go to pair them up, there is so often one that is missing! I bought each child a mesh “sock bag”. When their socks were dirty they would put them in the sock bag. When it begins to fill up, they drop it down the laundry chute and all their socks get washed up at once. As long as they manage to get them into the sock bag when they take them off, they don’t get lost.

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How I Dealt With Picky Eaters

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picky-eaters

What if my child doesn’t want to eat or is picky about what they will eat?

In our home, having so many children, forced me to come up with a plan for picky eaters.  There is no way I could cater to their many likes or dislikes. I had my children take small amounts of food they said they had never tried before. They had to try it at least once.

I should say, however, that if my kids disliked a food with a strong, distinct flavor I did not make them eat it. Some of those things that I didn’t force kids to eat were: mustard, turnips, liver, sauerkraut, etc. You get the picture. I personally cannot stomach mustard and do not eat it. If your child has a long list, you could maybe let them choose their 5 most disliked foods and beyond that, they would have to have a least a little bit.

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