Chores, Curiosity, and Conversations.

Today was such a pleasant day. I feel very productive, despite a very lazy-feeling start to the whole thing. I wasn’t entirely looking forward to the day, since Dain has had a fever off and on, and his cough worsened again. However, the sunshine and blue skies had an effect on me, even if I never did get to get out and enjoy them, and my day ended on a peaceful and sweet note.

The kids and I now race each night to see who can finish first: They clean their rooms, and I clean the kitchen. Have I ever mentioned how much I abhor cleaning the kitchen? Well, I do. So, half the time, I end up putting it off ’til morning, which is a terrible thing to wake up to, really. With this whole new racing thing, though, it’s become – dare I say it? – FUN!

Anyway.

We race, and if they win, they get a sticker on a chart I made. If they get four stickers between Monday and Saturday, then we celebrate with ice cream on Sunday night. We blast our “Happy Fun Mix,” and work away joyfully. It’s kinda cool. I love the feeling a clean kitchen gives me, but I’ve never liked getting it done. This way, I am held accountable to set an example for them, and they are motivated to work. Best of all? There’s no fighting or whining or lecturing or yelling. (Yes, yelling happens sometimes, but so do apologies and forgiveness.)

And I get to wake up to a clean kitchen.

I’ve also started having them help me fold clothes – a long overdue task. We all work together, and I teach them as I go, overlooking very bizarre contortions, because they really are trying. I give them each a piece of paper, and they tally each item they fold (sneaky math lesson). I pay them a penny for each tally mark.

I did tell them (and I mean it) that when they are capable of doing it on their own, I will no longer pay, as I will expect them to help, simply because it’s their laundry too. I’m paying now, because it’s really “my” job, and I’m paying them to be my assistants for the moment. It’s working well so far. Plus, that sneaky math lesson helps me feel that it’s worth it. They each have to help count their own coins, and do addition in their heads. Plus, it’s balanced against several jobs they do without pay, because I firmly believe that they do need to contribute. I think this might be the beginnings of a system we can modify as we go. We shall see…

Homeschooling could be better, but I’m doing my best to play catch-up, and I plan to school through the summer. We might as well, we’ll have nothing better to do this year, since we won’t be making a trip home this summer. Not to mention that the kids are really digging the whole “learning” thing. Tonight at dinner, they informed me that they are curious about everything. (They really like the word “curious” lately.) This isn’t verbatim, but it’s the best I can remember from dinner tonight:

Lydia: “Is it good that we’re so curious, Mom?”
Me: “Yes, my dear. It means that you love to learn new things, and ask questions. And how can you get answers unless you ask questions?”
Lydia: “Oh, that’s good. We ask questions more than we tell stuff, don’t we?”
Me: “Yes, you do.”
Audrey (with quite a serious expression): “I’m very curious, you know.”
Me: “I know!”
Durin: “Yeah, we all are. We just love to learn, so much! I want to study reptiles.”
Lydia: “And I want to help archaeologists dig up stuff!”
Audrey (flying her hand around, to illustrate): “And I want to explore space!”

Dain remained quietly chowing down on his cantaloupe, saying nothing. I expect it’s because of his subdued nature when he’s not feeling well. I asked him what he wanted to do.

“I want to be a race car driver, like Lightning McQueen!”

No matter what he ends up doing, I have a feeling that boy’s going to just have fun for the rest of his life. I like that thought.

Over the last month or so, I took a few pictures of our school doings to share with you. Just snippets of things the kids are really doing well at.

Audrey is finally learning to write her own name, after months of my encouraging and building her confidence. This is her first, “all-by-myself” attempt. The top line was mine, and she copied underneath. (And yes, she has chapped lips in this photo.) Each attempt gets better and better, and it’s made her quite an eager beaver!

I bought Durin an Usbourne book, Starting Chess, because he has shown an interest in learning games other than Candyland. Also, I think his critical thinking skills could use a boost. So, he read through the entire book, and got very excited. He and Daddy now sit down to play, so Daddy can teach him how to put that book knowledge to use. I can’t let him play against his siblings yet, because he definitely takes advantage of them – and Levi and I won’t stand for that. So, Daddy is using chess to teach our son about honor and integrity. Cool.

Lydia’s reading is improving wonderfully. We’ve taken a break from curriculum, and are just reading through her “Bob Books.” Wonderful tools! She gets to color every book she reads successfully, and I am working on building her reading confidence. She sometimes compares herself to her brother, who is quite an advanced reader, and I have to remind her that she is her own person. That this is NOT a competition or a race. That it’s okay for her to read just the way she already is, as long as she is doing HER best. And she is.

Awhile ago, I bought two of these things at Staples for $3.00 each. On one side are the lines for writing practice, the other side is blank. Perfect for little hands who want so desperately to “do school,” whether or not I am helping one of the older kids at the moment. They were delighted with the new medium, and it freed me to focus more closely on Lydia’s reading lesson, or Durin’s questions about what he was working on.

I love my kids so much. They are definitely a bit much to handle sometimes, but that’s only because I don’t always handle myself well. I’m working on it, and I let them see that.

When the new year began, the only thing I thought of to change, was to keep the radio in the car quiet when I’m driving the kids anywhere. I kind of thought it would encourage conversation between us. Boy, was I right about that! I have really been rewarded with wonderful talks with my kids. Everything from theology and the Bible to weather and school, to the concerns of their little hearts has come up. Hard questions and easy questions are asked, and I encourage them to think through what the answers might be, and we talk. They tell me random thoughts. They ask my opinion about things. We ride quietly. Sometimes, I just listen to the sweet little kid conversations they have amongst themselves.

It’s beautiful, and I’m so glad I made that one little change.

I am really stinking blessed.

And have rambled quite long enough.

How was your week?

Also, I haven’t been very good at editing lately, but I have more important things to worry about than the typographical/grammatical errors in my blog posts. This thing is more for my own catharsis and processing than anything, anyway. I’m just happy to have anyone along for the ride! Thanks for sticking with me!

~Tiffany

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6 thoughts on “Chores, Curiosity, and Conversations.

  1. Love it! You have such awesome kiddos. I would add more but then it would be me talking about me again! 🙂 You are very good at writing and editing. 🙂

  2. Can I just say I think you and your family are wonderful and an inspiration! I quite share your kitchen feelings. I may begin this game myself. You certainly inspire creativity with my own liitle people. “We are all in this together” (Red Green) I love reading your ramblings and connecting to someone who understands “this” kind of normal!

  3. Hooray for Audrey writing her name! I wanted to do a little jig when I saw her with her name printed out. Your kids are so cute. I miss them. We must set up a play date as soon as Dain feels better.
    Hearing you talk (well actually seeing you write, but isn’t it a compliment that I hear your voice when you write?) makes me excited about having school age kids. It looks like you have a lot of fun home schooling them, even if it is hard to shuffle all of the different lessons around. You are blessed, I am blessed, God is good, isn’t he?

    And as for this week, it’s been hard. My little one has been a bit under the weather, but finally has her first tooth. And my hubby has been staying late at work everyday. He even has to go in today. God has really asked me when my attitude will be in all of this… will I respond with grumpiness or love and grace? I chose the later!

    And no worries, I don’t really pay attention to grammar in my blogs either. (Or in my comments). A blog is a place to share yourself, real mistakes and all 🙂

    And once again I’ve written a super wordy response. Ah well. You love it, admit it!

  4. Hello, again! Just getting around to last week’s mail! This was such a sweet reading–too short in my opinion. 🙂
    We always lived out in the country with a half-hour ride to anything, so carried along cd’s of classical music. When my oldest son brought home his fiance-to-be, who is a concert pianist, she wanted to try out our antique piano and asked what she could play that the children would know. I sort of gingerly asked if she knew “Rondo ala Turka” and she hopped right to it, saying she had just finished learning it. (Whew!) As she began playing, little feet came pattering from everywhere saying, “She can play ‘Rondo ala Turka’!” Boy, was she impressed! (As were we!) But then my youngest asked for his favorite, Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune and Aire”–HA! She got a good laugh and even more impressed at that, since it is for trumpet, not piano, but the child KNEW it by name and claimed it as favorite. Anyway, they all know tons of classical music because of our trips to town.
    That was when they were older than yours, though, and I think your record of their sweet conversations is just heart-melting! Keep up the good work!

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