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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Two Year Anniversary!

Hi all!!

It has been 2 years since we started this endeavor-- and though our tagline still reads "Ten children" and Gemma topped us at eleven-- we are still two sisters writing this blog (though Ems feels insanely guilty for not posting more...)!!

Our eleven kiddos- plus cousin Charlie too :)

So, as the tradition of last anniversary, here are our TOP TEN most popular/read blog posts this year:

 #10 Blog Post of the year is my review of the Dollar Tree products that I use- and that I DON'T use...

Ah the dollar store craft section....

Our #9 most-read post is my admission that I have a tendency to dissuade my own children a bit in every day life...  So far, they still are somewhat confident children :)  I also encourage them to dream!

My little dreamers....

Our #8 most popular post is the random lessons I learned one week.... Still relevant today :)
Silly Day!! I think we are due for one!!

 Our #7  Blog post was my sum up on the start of my new home renovations (that were not going so well).
I am SOOO glad I don't have any more wall paper in my house...

Our #6 Post captured the photographic evidence of my journey through painting and re-doing a 1900s home.... Trading Spaces- Jules Style

I still love my mini-mudroom

Our #5 Post was our combo-post on the gifts that we recommend for children at Christmas time!  Don't forget to use some of the ideas this year as we near the holiday season....

Magnatiles- still using them... :)

Our #4 Blog post was Em's wonderful take on Mommy Shaming

Nutella for dinner- why not??
Our #3 Most popular blog posting was the announcement of baby Gemma and my take on the welcoming of new life!
Still missing one kiddo... :)

Our # 2 Most read entry wasn't even written by Ems OR Jules-- but the awesome Brian! His "Hubby Style" post was sweet, heartfelt, and quite entertaining too :)

The sweet sisters!

Our #1 Most Popular Blog Post is..... Em's announcement that she was having a girl:

Little precious Gemma! Super popular even before she was born...

 Hope you all continue to read, enjoy, and share our blog!  I have some new goals for this year with posting- so wish us luck on our fun endeavor! Remember, if you have any blog ideas, please comment or email- we love suggestions!

Easy Rule #2321-Even if you aren't meeting all of your goals, keep at it!  Though we don't post as much as we would like- it's still cathartic to express oneself even infrequently.

Easy Rule #32-  Having people actually READ your blog is fantastic :) Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Start of Real School

Jules here:

My two eldest have been in "real school' for seven days now- which means I am a complete expert on the subject.  Seriously though, I am still in the "learning curve" of having children attend a regular school.  Besides the emotional adjustments-  more tears from mommy than the kiddos- the logistical changes have been slightly overwhelming.  With homeschooling, I have never had to "make them presentable" by breakfast, pack lunches, and coordinate drop offs/pick up times.  Whew.  I have done a few things that are helping me stay a bit more sane with all the chaos of this new regime...
Good bye summer- Hello School!

  •  Paperwork- I was amazed with the amount of paperwork for the start of the school year. From emergency cards to lunch choices- I was completely overwhelmed.  And when the school year started- it kept coming, and coming. From "Friday Folders" with mailers in my mailbox, I had to get organized fast.  I quickly made up a "School Information" folder in my home center and a "Complete & Return" folder so I knew to bring it BACK to the school.  I often get questioned on the difficulty of homeschooling- and quite frankly I found the paperwork/decisions for "regular" school to be more challenging....
    I love the folders
  • Routine- This week we have had the HOTTEST weather we have had ALL summer (I have made it all summer with out installing my AC)... and, for our readers who are NOT in New England- schools do not come equipped with A.C.  The children were little uniformed-sweat-dripping-messes when I picked them up; of course, they begged to got to the beach every single day after school.  Did I acquiesce? YES! I was hot too.  But, I must say playing at the beach for two hours, cooking dinner, making lunches, doing homework, etc. etc. etc.... was a bit much each night.  Blessedly, tonight the weather changed, and we were unable to go to the beach today... and it was so much better.  I was able to enjoy dinner and our conversations rather than rush them through to get homework done. 
    Frosty after Hot day!
  • Sleep Schedule- Along with a simple routine for meals, my children have been strung-out tired this week. Our normal routine had been "summer-ized" with late nights every night. I have been slowly making bed time earlier so they will get enough rest, and I will get some too :) 
    Sleep chart for how much sleep they need!!
  • Free Play- From an OT standpoint, having kids be in a scheduled, rigid day of school can definitely wind them up.  After school, kids need to have free play, exercise, and major "brain breaks".  My children run the gamut from exhaustion to hyperactivity each day.  I try to give them fewer chores, more time to choose their own activities, and I encourage sibling re-bonding.  I am really glad my kids aren't in lessons, sports, and more every day.  I am a big proponent on allowing the kids imaginative play and free time to create. We are definitely NOT an over-scheduled family.  Though I know we plan on doing some sports and piano lessons, etc, I am going to attempt not to over-lap the activities so the kids still have plenty of down time. 
    Getting in some vestibular action with Delaware cousins!
  • Lunches- After scouring Pinterest, I have come to the conclusion that I am not a shape-lunch guru for every day school lunches. Some of the parents out there must have A LOT of free time.... however, I do love my bento-style box for the kids lunches.  Every day I do attempt to pack well-rounded meal for the girls: fruit, vegetable, grain and protein.  Sounds healthful, right? Well, Lissie favors bologna so I do give her that processed meat too :) Grace prefers the hummus with veggies.  It took a few days to master how much the children would actually eat.  I also give them water bottles each day rather than purchase milk or have juice.
    Mmmm.... :)
  • Meal Planning-  With my working days and the children's school days, meal planning is critical to my grocery shopping and food management. On Wednesday, I have a very long day with the children in after-care at the school.  By the time we get home, I am way too tired to figure out food.  This week, by 7 AM I had breakfast (baked French toast), lunch (packed), and dinner (crock pot) all completed for the day!  I created a pinterest board for crockpot meals, as I plan on doing 1-2 meals a week this method.
    I made honey garlic chicken thighs. Yum.

  • Forget "ME" Time- I know, all the websites and self-help books tout "Mommy "ME" Time" so why am I denying such a blissful need?  Well, when I plan for downtime, and I don't get it I am more often not a very nice mommy.... For example, I was exhausted last Wednesday night, and by the time I wrestled the kids into bed at 8:30 PM, I came down to Netflix and finish up my work notes- when out ambled a little anxiety-ridden 7 year old.... and she wanted to talk.  I was more impatient than I should have been; I was not as caring as I could have been; and honestly, I wasn't the mom that I wanted to be.  So instead of expecting down time, just be grateful when you get it.  My children were pooped tonight- we had plenty of time to connect, discuss, and enjoy our time when we got home.  The kids seem more mentally-ready for an earlier bedtime.  I got to Netflix TWO TV shows as I slowly-type this blog.  I am incredibly grateful for this moment- but I also would have been able to sacrifice it for the sake of my children in a heartbeat.  I am appreciative but not demanding about my space/needs.  That seems self-sacrificing, but in reality, it makes me (and the kids) happier. 
    If kids don't behave, they plank.  Just kidding- we are doing a plank challenge... 10 seconds added each day. We are up to 90 seconds.... wish us luck!
 And to prove my point, this is the exact conversation I had with James while I was in the shower:

Knock Knock
"Who is it?" asks me in the shower.
"James." And he just walks in the bathroom.
"What is it James? I put you in bed already."
"Um... I just have a question" (he ALWAYS has a question at bed time).
"Why do you always shower at night after bed time?" he asked.
"Because Mommy likes a nice, quiet shower so I can have some privacy and peace." I said.
"But Mommy, I am in here right now! It's not quiet!" He so brilliantly pointed out.
"Exactly. Now go to bed."
Grace swimming at the beach after school!

And Lissie crashing at the beach after school...
  • Can't do it all- Biggest thing I am learning- I am not a superwoman.  I look at the parents who work full-time, manage the children, and run the household and I am in awe. I know I need at least one day to catch up on chores, organization, shopping, and meal planning.  I am going to really, really try hard to stick to my minimalistic budget so I don't have to work that extra day in the future. I'd rather be poor and sane.  Or really rich with a maid, housekeeper, and chef.  Throw in a masseuse too.
Easy Rule #22323- Every change in life has challenges, roll with the punches until you find a way to survive.

Easy Rule #98023- Even when your time is more limited with your children, keep the conversations going. Let them know you will always listen, even when you really don't have the time...