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Why I DON’T Put My Kids to Bed at 7:00 pm!

Today I’m excited to be guest posting over at Hip Homeschooling! I’m sharing a bit about our family’s evening routines and bedtime — I’d be pleased if you would stop by and say hi!  Here is a short preview of my post:

You may have been hearing a lot lately from all the mama’s who put their kids to bed by 7:00 pm, going on and on about how great it is to spend their evenings with their husbands, that children today are terribly sleep deprived, that by suppertime they are tired and deserve a break from mothering, and how your marriage really just needs you to drop those precious little babes of yours off into La-La Land early in order to thrive  {READ MORE}

 

A Day in The Life of This Learning Mama

If you are looking for the summary of a perfectly ordered homeschool day, this is not going to be the one. I was thinking maybe I should just scratch this one out, and try again tomorrow but I decided not to — because this is life, mine anyway, for better or for worse. And today is definitely going on the short list of my worst days.

It’s February and a Monday, which are two things that I’m not particularly fond of.

So here is day in the life of this learning mama, homeschooling my three girls, ages 8, 5, and 1. Last year, I chose to share an ordinary, at home day of our homeschool —  so this year I thought I’d share a day that involves some at home learning as well as one of our weekly out of home activities.

5:20 am Baby Sister (21 months old) wakes up. I gently give her daddy a kick and he get’s out of bed. He’s so awesome about getting up early with her. Sometimes she goes back to sleep with him, sometimes they go downstairs and do whatever it is that toddlers like to do at that ridiculous hour.

7:08 am Baby Sister happily comes into the bedroom looking for mama. We snuggle and are joined by Big Sister (8) and Little Sister (5). Daddy showers and get’s ready for work. Then it’s my turn, and time for my big girls to get started on their morning chores (dress, make beds, put laundry away & unload the dishwasher). They are overjoyed to discover that I forgot to turn the dishwasher on before bed last night,but I get them to sort the next load of laundry and fold clean rags instead.

8:00 am  Daddy has left for work and I’m making breakfast (cream of wheat & smoothies) while the girls round up library books. It’s Monday, and on today’s agenda is an afternoon gymnastics class with our homeschool friends, and then our weekly trip to the library. Books are rounded up, breakfast is served and eaten, teeth and hair are brushed, and Baby Sister is dressed — a great and smooth start to our day!

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - breakfast!

9:15 am We begin our usual morning time. Everyone loves this part — we sing “Lavender’s Blue” (Baby Sister’s favourite) and play some clapping games on the floor. Then we cozy up on the couch for read alouds & devotions, our hymn of the week, memory work, and our very first day of Picture Study. Baby Sister steals and then bends our brand new picture card, such is life when you are homeschooling with a toddler.  While I try to take her mischief in stride, today I’m pretty upset about it. How very ridiculous this will seem to me later, in light of the destruction we will see today!

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - first incidence of destruction for our day

9:45 We start our book work with Math. Little Sister watches her Math-U-See DVD lesson, and Big Sister takes her book upstairs to find a quiet spot to do her lesson. Math does not go well for Little Sister and I today. Up until today, she has been doing great with Math and has had some fun with single digit   addition. But today, we are moving from adding 2+2 to 20+20, and for some reason it does not compute! Unfortunately for me, Little Sister didn’t communicate her lack of understanding very well and instead I perceived her behaviour as being distracted and/or uncooperative. Unfortunately for her, I was immensely frustrated by said behaviour and raised my voice. I admit that this happens too often in these sort of situations. Sigh.

Big Sister finishes her lesson before Little Sister and I are done, which is  very unusual, and she waits for me while playing in the family room with Baby Sister.

10:15 Math is done, and Little Sister assumes the responsibility of toddler entertainer while Big Sister and I hit the books. We spend 15 minutes doing our writing lesson, which for today is a simple dictation exercise. Then 15 minutes of Spelling followed by 15 minutes of Grammar. Big Sister is finding sentence diagraming easy and boring,  and she wants to do it on her own instead of step by step with my help. It’s almost 11:00, and the kids are all getting a little hungry and whining for a snack or a change of activity. I let Big Sister finish off with  her cursive practice on her own.

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - cursive practice

11:07 While I’m starting a load of laundry (with the assistance of Baby Sister), I realize that I forgot to put her down for a nap this morning! On Monday she naps in the morning because we head out to gymnastics in the afternoon. Up to bed she goes! I usually do one page of handwriting with Little Sister every day, but I forgot that too!

11:20  The big girls are playing (and mostly arguing!) while I’m making lunch. It seems like most of what they do lately is fight with one another.  Big Sister get’s tired of fighting with Little Sister and decides to read instead. Supper goes into the slow cooker. It’s a family favourite, Chicken & Black Bean Soup.

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - reading

12:00 Lunch is ready.  We eat, then I wake Baby Sister and plunk her into her high chair for a quick bite. Then it’s everyone running around for bathroom, socks, boots, coats and out the door!

12:45 We get loaded into the car with our library bags, and head out while listening to our latest audiobook, Understood Betsy, while we make the 30 minute drive to the gym. We are really loving this story!

The rest of this story should read as follows: the girls have fun at gymnastics while mama has a nice time chatting with the homeschool mommies and chasing toddlers around the viewing area while they try to escape into the gym with the big kids. Then we go to the library, come home, and play/read until suppertime. That was how it  was supposed to happen.

Instead….

1:00 pm We are about half way to gymnastics when we get rear ended. Hard. No one is hurt, thankfully, but our van is not drivable. It’s all I can do to pull off the busy road to get onto a side street. We spend an hour waiting for the police, my husband to collect us, and the van to be towed. The whole situation was a mess — I don’t have a cell phone to call anyone, the kid who hit us was driving his father’s car and was terrified, I sent text messages to my husband with my iPad which he does not answer, then I text my mom and ask her to call him. Then the kid drives home to get his father, who tries to convince me that we don’t need to call the police, that I can still drive my car if he pulls off the bumper (except the FRAME was bent and interfering with the tires!).

So,  yeah, we missed gymnastics.

But guess what? This book loving mama didn’t miss the library! That’s where I had my husband take us when he picked us up — after all, we wouldn’t want any late fees, would we?!

3:30 pm We are finally home. I ask my husband to deal with the insurance company and the towing as I’m just exhausted.  I call my mom to fill her in on all the details, all she knew was that we had been in an accident, we were ok, and I needed her to tell my husband to come for us.  I’m so thankful that I had a slow cooker supper planned for today —  I go upstairs to bed and lay down with a book (Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis).  The kids are playing and totally unaffected by the day’s drama.

5:30 pm Supper

6:00 pm Big Sister does piano practice and homework with Daddy. Dishes and books on the couch for me my little girls.

6:30 pm Big Sister and I work on the LEGO kit she got for Christmas that she has been wanting help with. It’s nice to just relax with her, and we spend almost an hour getting all the pieces together. We come back downstairs and it’s time to rally the troops one more time for a big clean up before bed.

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - LEGO with my girl!

At 7:35 we gather at the table with some snacks and our bedtime reading, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Baby Sister makes reading impossible, so Daddy takes her upstairs.

8:15 and the big girls are all tucked in and reading in bed. Baby Sister is being put to bed by Daddy.

I spend the evening giving my statement regarding the accident to the police (which is done by email nowadays — who knew?!), checking in on my email/Facebook messages, and then reviewing my notes of the day for this post. At 10:15 pm, I head off to bed for some more reading and then go to sleep. I forget to turn the dishwasher on AGAIN and leave all the laundry in the dryer unfolded.

A Day in the Life of this Learning Mama - peaceful sleep!

Tomorrow we will have an ordinary homeschool day, except no doubt we will be exploring the prospect of rental vehicles, insurance reports, and of course the used vehicle market. Anyone have any good leads on decently priced mini vans?

 

 

 

 

A Day in Our Homeschool

The Best Gingerbread Recipe – I Promise!

Christmas will be here in a few short days! If you haven’t done any baking yet and want to have some fun decorating cookies with your kiddos, it’s not too late! Two weeks ago I shared with your how making gingerbread is a serious family tradition around here — it is so much fun to do as a family, and nothing tastes like Christmas to me like homemade gingerbread cookies! Today I’m going to share the recipe I use, it’s been adapted from my trusty red and white gingham Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I always make at least double of this recipe, because we love them so much. These are the most delicious gingerbread cookies ever, firm to crunchy in texture, and strong enough to hold on to all that icing your kids are going to  want to pour on them.

Best Ever Gingerbread Recipe - enjoy making these delicious cookies with your kiddos this season!

Best Ever Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • Royal icing to decorate

 

  1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for about 30 seconds, then add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, then add in molasses, egg and vinegar as well. Beat in as much of the flour you can (I’m able to get it all in with my Kitchenaid, but couldn’t when I used a hand mixer), then stir the rest in by hand. Divide dough into half and and chill for at least 3 hours – usually bake the next day.
  2. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly flour your counter (I use a Pampered Chef silicone baking mat) and roll out half of the dough to 1/4 – 1/8 inch thickness. Use your favourite holiday shaped cookie cutters and then place about an inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 375° oven for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned. It really depends on how thick you rolled them and how big the shapes are — I watch the first batch like a hawk and then time the rest accordingly. Cool on a wire rack, and decorate with Royal Icing

 

 

You’re going to want to use this recipe – print it below or pin in for later! Enjoy your cookies and have a Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Best Ever Gingerbread Recipe!
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: Holiday
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This recipe is great for making gingerbread men and all sorts of other holiday themed shapes! The resulting cooking is a firm to crunchy cutout, perfect for decorating! Decorate with Royal icing, sprinkles, and candies 🙂
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2½ cups flour
  • Royal icing to decorate
Instructions
  1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for about 30 seconds, then add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, then add in molasses, egg and vinegar as well. Beat in as much of the flour you can (I'm able to get it all in with my Kitchenaid, but couldn't when I used a hand mixer), then stir the rest in by hand. Divide dough into half and and chill for at least 3 hours - usually bake the next day.
  2. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly flour your counter (I use a Pampered Chef silicone baking mat) and roll out half of the dough to ¼ - ⅛ inch thickness. Use your favourite holiday shaped cookie cutters and then place about an inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 375° oven for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned. It really depends on how thick you rolled them and how big the shapes are -- I watch the first batch like a hawk and then time the rest accordingly. Cool on a wire rack, and decorate with Royal Icing

 

How We Homeschool: Homeschooling With a Toddler Underfoot

Please be advised that this post does not offer a solution to the seeming impossibility of getting through a day of homeschooling older children with a toddler underfoot without frustration, tears, or an disastrously messy house. I’ve read all those posts, and frankly, the impossibility is not seeming, it is actual.

No,  I’m not going to share with you 10 ways to keep your toddler busy for a solid hour so that you will be freed up to study Shakespeare uninterrupted with your older children because:

(A) all those pinteresty toddler activities require more time to set-up/clean-up than you will get back in peace and quiet, and

(B) toddlers are only completely occupied when they are up to no good. Ahem.

Homeschool with a toddler?! We can't even manage to empty the dishwasher!
Homeschool with a toddler?! We can’t even manage to empty the dishwasher!

I’m just going to share with you how I am currently homeschooling my 8 and 5 year olds while my 19 month old attempts to burn the house down,  electrocute herself, or make herself a snack. I’m sure she was trying to do one of those things yesterday when I caught her putting a knife in the toaster and pressing the lever….

So this is how we homeschool with a toddler underfoot (or under the table, or ON the table):

We do morning time or read alouds until i get tired of having the book ripped from my hand or sat on. Then we do something else and try again later.

We keep our lessons short and my girls take turns playing with or reading to the toddler while I work with their sibling. We move on to something else or take a break when said toddler climbs on top of the table, finds a pen and destroys someone’s work, or hangs off of mama’s leg sobbing.

We do our memory work with our memory card box during meals when the toddler is strapped into the high chair and can’t dump all the cards on the floor (which of course irreparably effects the whole system).

We stack unused chairs on the table or bungee them to the table to keep our little climber off, especially if we are working with paint, chalks, or markers.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot
Putting all the chairs on top of the table doesn’t help much when you’re so cute you get an invite onto a lap!

We allow her to sit with us at the table and scribble or play with the math manipulatives until she climbs on the table or starts writing on the papers of others.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot

We kiss, tickle, and smile at her every time we walk past her.

We laugh at her antics.

We try to get her to repeat funny words or imitate funny faces and laugh with her often.

We try to enjoy just about every moment of her cuteness and love her to bits. She’s just so much fun, and we know that all too soon she will be past this challenging stage and into another.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot - Doesn't she look studious?
Doesn’t she look studious?

Are you homeschooling with a toddler underfoot?

 

Classically Homeschooling

Our Family Christmas Traditions

We are a very low key family around here. We don’t do elaborate or themed birthday celebrations nor do we spend a lot of time and money preparing for events and special occasions.

Christmas is pretty simple at our house too — we have a few family Christmas traditions, bake our favourite treats, visit with family, and tuck a few presents under the tree.

These are the family Christmas traditions that bring excitement and joy to our family and have become a somewhat distinct aspect of our family culture over the years.

Our Family Christmas Traditions - 3 Christmas traditions that give me the warm & fuzzies!

Our Family Christmas Traditions:

 

Gingerbread

Gingerbread is my favourite non-chocolate dessert. Nothing tastes like Christmas to me the way gingerbread does!

Ever since my oldest was a toddler we have been baking and decorating gingerbread cookies as a family, and have sometimes enjoyed having friends join us for the decorating.

This is actually something I have incorporated from my own childhood — my mom used to bake piles of cookies and invite a table full of happy boys and girls over for a decorating party. I have a lot of memories of gathering with my cousins, friends, and neighbours for a sweet afternoon of cookie decorating!

Baking gingerbread - an annual Christmas tradition!

We like to roll our cookies fairly thin and bake them until nice and crispy. We also have a favourite gingerbread recipe that we use every year.

Gingerbread - a Christmas tradition

Nativity Set

This is a relatively new family tradition for us — but it has much deeper roots.

About 3 years ago I found this lovely set from my childhood in my parents’ basement after not having seen it in years! I asked my mom if I could have it and it has been one of my favourite parts of our family Christmases ever since.

Gran's hand painted Nativity Set - an important Christmas traditionWhat makes this set so special to me is that not only that it is 30 + years old, but it was hand painted by my own dear Gran <3! I just love that I can share this with my girls!

 

Gran's hand painted Nativity Set - an important Christmas tradition

Advent Calendar

This tradition is not one that originated from my own childhood. I’m not sure that we ever even had one of those cardboard, chocolate filled advent calendars or any other type in my home growing up.

But when I found this lovely, wooden, Christmas tree advent calendar, I thought it was just perfect for us! Behind each door, I tuck a little activity card (or sometimes a sweet treat!) so that each day we have some special Christmas activity to do together.

Christmas Traditions - Advent Activity Calendar - a Christmas themed activity for each day!Some of our activities have included skating, Christmas card making, watching Christmas movies, baking, and making Christmas themed crafts. Sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch coming up with 25 ideas!

My children are just so excited each morning as they discover what special holiday activity we will be incorporating into our day.Christmas Traditions - Advent Activity Calendar - a Christmas themed activity for each day!

Over the years I lost most of the original, handmade cards I created that first year, so I recently made some printable advent activity cards that I can reuse or reprint if they get lost.

I’d love to hear about your family Christmas traditions! What do you and your children enjoy at this time of year?

FREE printable Advent Activity Cards - Chocolate-free Advent Calendar idea

Best Ever Gingerbread Recipe - enjoy making these delicious cookies with your kiddos this season!