Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Jobs for Little Hands

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It takes a lot of work to take care of little kids and take care of a house. They are practically on a mission to destroy your best efforts right behind you. Sometimes I pretty much give up and clean up after they go to bed so that I can enjoy the cleanliness of my house without it being destroyed 5 seconds later. But I have found that my kids really do love to help, even if they aren't doing a job perfectly, and it keeps them busy while I do other things I need to do. So here are some things that I have found that my little ones can do.

When they are around 2, they can do little, short tasks, because that is all they can remember and all they can really follow through with. And I've found that they need a little motivation, like a song, cleaning with them, or cleaning with an older sibling. They can help with things like:
1. washing windows (give them a towel or paper towel after you have sprayed it)
2. helping to unload the dishwasher (my 2 year old hands all the dishes to my 5 year old, and she stacks them appropriately on the counter, and I just put them away. I wish I would have thought of this when I was pregnant and bending down was difficult!!)
3. taking things to their room (especially if they have a play grocery cart, you can load it up with things that go to their room, and they will be glad to push it!)
4. getting their own diaper, shoes, shirts, etc. (if they can reach something that you need them to bring somewhere, why not ask them to get it? They may or may not, but praise them if they do!)
5. a rag with water (if you give them something to clean, a rag, and some water, it may or may not get cleaned, but they will be occupied for at least 30 minutes!
6. Putting their dirty clothes into the laundry basket
7. Putting their shoes away/in their room upon returning home
8. wiping off the table (might not be super efficient, but they love doing it!)
9. dusting (give them a washcloth and a certain area to dust, praise them!)
10. putting on their own shoes (if they can)

When they are around 5 (I picked these ages because that's how old mine are, so those are the ages I know. Certainly there are other chores they can do at other ages, and more things they can do when they are older/younger!) they can be such a big help. And I have found that they want to help, enjoy the praise when they do a good job, love the independence of doing something they have seen you do, and are learning the value of the work that goes into keeping a home. I especially value this for my 5 year old girl, who may be taking care of a home someday. They take it for granted when everything is done for them, and when they learn a little bit of hard work, they start to understand what it takes to be responsible and get things done throughout the day. I especially love the extra time I get with Maddy since we homeschool, so she can see what I do all day long, observe, and one day learn how to do things! Baby steps, people!  So here are some jobs that they can do at around 5 years old:
1. fold washcloths (I gave Maddy this job one day, and she proceeded to fold a whole load of laundry!)
2. put washcloths/towels away (I used to let her put her clothes away, and then she was just shoving them in her drawers, defeating the purpose of folding them.)
3. using the hose to vacuum corners
4. making their bed
5. cleaning their room (Maddy often doesn't do a great job cleaning her room, and I have been meaning to make a visual chart so she knows which things to clean up. Like pictures of toys, shoes, clean clothes, dirty clothes, etc. so she can move through the list, checking each thing off and also teaching her how to clean her room)
6. putting silverware away from the dishwasher (teaches sorting)
7. teaching their younger sibling a chore that they know (helps them be patient, learn how to teach, and keeps 2 kids occupied at once!)
8. switching laundry from washer to dryer, and from dryer to basket
9. taking out their own trashcan, or all the trashcans to a central location the day before trash pickup
10. sweeping
11. feeding their pet (maddy gives the dog food and water, and lets her out of her cage and opens the door to let her outside)
12. washing windows
13. helping to watch the baby (she can sit with her and keep her happy while I do housework)
14. wiping off the dining room table, kitchen counters, bathroom counters
15. clearing the dining room table after a meal (teaches them how to put things away, keep their place clean)
16. cleaning up after their own messes
17. putting their coat/bag/shoes away upon returning home
18. picking up their toys when they are done playing
19. getting the mail (ours is right on our front porch)
20. dusting

I love that instead of making more of a mess for you, you can actually get your kids to work together to clean something, which accomplishes so many things all at once!! It is a lot of work to take care of a house, but your 5 and 2 year old don't need to be sitting on the couch watching tv or running around fighting and making a mess all the time while you clean. Put them to work, and watch for results!! Teaching them some responsibility is a great gift you can give them at this young age! I do, however, think you need to be careful not to make your kids slaves and make them do everything in your house! It is hard to find the balance sometimes, between teaching your kids responsibility and making them do everything around the house. They should definitely be responsible for themselves as they get older, but I do believe they should have a fun childhood as well, and not spend it taking care of the whole house! We have to model hard work for them too, so that they will see what it looks like to work hard and not be lazy. If we make them do everything and we are lazy, then they will resent hard work and will not want to continue it into adulthood. Modelling laziness and teaching hard work is not a good combination!
So there you have it! There's my two sense!! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other jobs for little hands that would be helpful to other moms!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes!! Not just because it is so delicious, but because it is so simple!! One time, we were going over my in-laws for lunch, and she asked me to bring dessert, and she suggested cookie bars. I had barely ever had cookie bars before, let alone made them! So I got online and found this delicious recipe!! I love them because they are like chocolate chip cookies, but in cake form! You just can't resist them! Trust me, you will have a new favorite dessert! And you probably have most if not all of the ingredients already on hand!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Nestle Toll House

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (which I don't add)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15 by 10 inch jelly-roll pan (and it took me a long time to figure out that this was a cookie sheet. I figured I just didn't have this kind of pan, lol!)
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, and nuts, if using. Spread into prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack, and cut into bars.

If you don't love this recipe, then your taste buds must not be working! Just kidding! But in all seriousness, a big reason I love this recipe is because the measurements are all so easy and quick! In just a few minutes you can whip up this dessert and everyone will love it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


 We are finally done with school!! It feels so good to have those 180 days of kindergarten under our belt!! The year went so well, and I am so pleased with Madelynn's progress! She is reading well, counting to over 100, knows so much more about our world than when she started the year, and knows a lot of states/capitals!! I am so proud of her!!
Maddy playing doctor at Leonardos!
Next year will be quite the journey! I have already mentioned that we will be doing Classical Conversations. Well, I was just offered the position of being the first grade tutor (which is the teacher of the class, though they call it the tutor.) I will have to go to a 3 day practicum in another city and begin preparing how I will present the material to the class! Pray for me!! I have never learned Latin, and this kind of teaching of different subjects will be different than anything I have done in the past. Though I am excited because it is definitely out of my comfort zone, and the training and teaching will help me be a better teacher to my kids!! I am looking forward to this next year!!
But for now, I am excited about summer! Now that we are done with our schoolwork, I have so many summer projects to tackle!! Not to mention the extra time we now have to play, get out in the mornings, hang out with friends more, and relax. I am hoping that by the Fall, Ruth will be on more of a solid schedule, and I will also be doing a little bit of preschool with Judah. He seems ahead of the game, and is already picking up so much from Maddy and from hearing us do school!
Judah was finally big enough to wear bowling shoes!!
We also just got a set of books that I am excited to use! The first set we got is for littles and has bright colors, fun pictures, and teaches them words in English/Spanish so I hope to use that with Maddy and Judah in the Fall and a little bit this summer! I plan to go through Maddy's desk, school papers, books from this year, books/magazines about homeschooling, and books for next year and get going on her lesson plans for next year! Of course, I have the whole summer to do this!! I planned on doing so much of this last summer and then I was pregnant and super sick and barely got Maddy's lesson plans done in time for school to start! So I look forward to doing it this summer!
We will also be reviewing different topics throughout the summer to refresh Maddy's memory, especially her reading/spelling material so she doesn't lose it!! Any tips for a new homeschooling mom of an almost first grader is appreciated!! I am still new on this journey!!
She is three months already!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Ride

We have been a one car family since we got married. We lived in Chicago for 8 years total including school and then when we got married. We almost always lived downtown so we didn't need a second car. We lived close to Tad's work and so he would jog, bike, or skateboard to work!! We rarely used the car ourselves. We could walk almost anywhere. We walked to the playgrounds, the store, the bank, the lake, the mall, the coffee shop, etc. It is a walking city!
When we moved to Oklahoma, we quickly realized we needed a second vehicle but really didn't have the money for one. Tad started riding his bicycle to work, which was about 6-7 miles. He liked it at first, but it was a hot summer last year, and he rode his bike most of it. Once we started school, he has driven the car most of the year because we didn't need the car in the mornings while we were doing school. But we often rely on Tad's family who lived in the same town for rides when the other one needs the car. His friend at work was trying to sell his motorcycle, and Tad was looking around town for one. He ended up getting a really good deal on a Suzuki Intruder. It is a cruiser! He just got it yesterday and he is so excited!! It will take some getting used to as he hasn't ridden an actual motorcycle before. Before yesterday that is. He was cruising around the neighborhood trying it out!
So we officially have 2 vehicles. Of course the motorcycle doesn't really transport the family around, but it will be nice to have our Pacifica this summer so we can run around town in the mornings before naps! And Tad will have a blast riding to work and wherever else, and not have to always ask for rides to get places!!
Several guys have said they wish their wives would let them get one, or want me to convince their wives to let them get one. But we have laughed at that and said the reason I have been so for it is because it is actually a lot safer than him riding his bicycle on high-speed limit streets. So while it is more dangerous switching from a car to a motorcycle, it is safer for Tad because he is upgrading from a bicycle to a motorcycle!! LOL!