So, school has started again. And with it I am once again establishing new habits. Our morning schedule has changed now that Emily has started early morning seminary and high school and Maddy has started middle school. Elsie and Cyrus have been given more responsibility now that Marvin hasn't been as available. In fact, chores is another thing that probably needs a revamp around here.
Preschool. Cyrus and I are doing preschool for his last year before starting school. We've done it a bit casually up till now, but now is the age I get more structured with it. I'm doing things very similar to what I did with Elsie, with a little more hands on. Every day we read The Friend magazine and Scripture Readers at the bus stop with Elsie, then book bag time and tub time as soon as we get back from the bus. He has a weekly playdate and gymnastics class as well.
Book Bag is a bag of books we sit on the couch and read. Some are picture type books we read all the way through, but others we only do a couple pages, using sticky notes as bookmarks. Each day we do poetry, art appreciation, social science, science, spiritual and quality literature. Plus, Cyrus gets a little reading practice with his choice of reading material. We have quite an extensive collection of books to use for this, so I'm not having to find them at the library. I've just organized all the books we'll use by subject, so I can quickly pull another book as we finish one up.
Tub time is not time in the bathtub, but a bunch of things I put in a plastic dishpan. There's usually a puzzle, Kumon page, page from Singapore math, a Handwriting Without Tears lesson and a hands on science experiment from the Usborne Book of Science activities. We'll be getting a new fish in the family, starting an ant farm and growing caterpillars in the spring. We also have an art tub with new weekly art materials (process not project based) that after initial introduction to Cyrus, any of the kids are free to use.
The whole thing takes about an hour, sometimes all at once, sometimes split up. Plus 10 min to replace materials for the next day. I've tried lots of different ways to do preschool and this is by far my favorite. It's low prep time, with lots of book exposure and no busy work. The tub, and especially the book bag, are very portable so we can grab them and go if our usual morning time isn't available. Or just to take outside to read under a tree or at the park.
Scripture Study. I'm also starting personal study of the Old Testament which is the Seminary scripture this year, and we are working on memorizing the seminary scriptures together as a family. I post one on the cupboard by the kitchen table and we all say it every meal. We just finished Moses 1:39, and everyone but Cyrus has it memorized.
Home. Another thing I am working on is making our house more of a home. I've been overwhelmed with the house for awhile and it definitely has shown, but I've decided I am done with that. I am purging, simplifying, organizing, deep cleaning and sprucing up. It is going to take me awhile to do such a complete overhaul, but I'm going for slow and steady. I started in the storage room, calculating how much space for our long term food storage items and arranging everything in it's space. I love that I can just look and see what is missing. I consolidated the laundry room pantry storage to downstairs and simplified what is stored in my kitchen. I still need to do some of the pan/appliance cupboards. I also downsized books and the desks. I opened up enough space that there is no longer any visible clutter, and plenty of space to move stuff out of the overstuffed art cupboard. I added a large picture of Christ to my desk, which also nicely hides the phone and laptop cords, and a vase for flowers. I love my new clean, pretty space! And the large, growing purge pile in my basement makes me happy, too.
Meals. I have decided to get back into doing freezer meals. But, I figured out a way to do it that is simpler. I never could do the once a month cooking thing, but would do a bunch of meals of one type such as ground beef mixtures or chicken meals or browned beef meals, etc. But it was still a lot of work cooking several different things with a bunch of ingredients and recipes to follow. So, I mostly would just double a recipe here and there and freeze the extra. And then lose track of what I had. My new plan is to make a nice meal from scratch every Sunday, and cook 4x a freezable recipe on errand day (or the day after). With a leftover night, and a kid's cook/date night, I'll be able to use 3 freezer meals each week and only cook twice each week! Prepping the freezer meal will be more work than usual, but not 4 times as much work; saving me time over all. And my shopping lists will be simpler with only basics and two meals to buy for. To keep track of what is in my freezer I stuck a magnetic dry erase marker on the freezer. I've started writing directly on the door what meals I have and when I froze them. I can then just erase as I use. I can't wait to see the door fill up!
Well, back to work!