Apples, Charts and Catch-up!

 The days are flying by so quickly that I hardly realize how much time has passed since I last blogged. Of course, I only feel a little guilty considering there aren’t that many people reading anyways…..Not that I blame anyone; this isn’t the most exciting place to visit! (Okay, that was totally a shameless shout-out for readers and comments. Where are you?? It gets discouraging!)

Our new schedule is taking time to adjust to. We were so in tune with our old school schedule in Chicago for so long that breaking out of it has been harder than expected. It just feels so different and we feel like we are always running, trying to catch up with all that needs to get done.

Ben goes into work anywhere from 6:30am-8:30am, depending on whether they need him for overtime or not. He gets home at 5:30pm every day which is nice because he’s home in time for dinner each night. The hard part is that this is definitely a more physically demanding job than he had before (okay, physical period!) so he is exhausted the few hours he can stay awake. As a matter of fact, he’s snoring next to me as I write…:) haha.

We also were used to having him home during the day 2-3 days a week, whereas now he is gone Mon-Fri (like a regular person, I guess!) and sometimes on the weekends, too. He is SO incredibly busy all the time. And so, then, am I….

We have a cute little playground not far outside our backdoor and the boys, especially love to play there after school. I admit, Eliana doesn’t get to go often because she wants to go when the boys do and there are a lot of other kids out, too, playing wildly and not generally watching out for tiny almost-four year olds. On this day that I took the picture, it was just the four of us for awhile! I enjoyed watching all three of them swing:)

Then Eliana decided to get silly, of course. She loves to be silly!

She also loves to pick out her own outfits several times a day. I have to fight with her to dress in something cute most days. Then during naptime, inevitably, she changes into something “comfy” which usually includes a Buckeye shirt and shorts, or cozy pants (as she likes to call them) and this pink shirt. She’s a goof! I think I may secretly raid her drawers and “hide” some of her regular go-to’s to change things up. You won’t tell, will you?

This was me scrubbing in for some deep freezer surgery the other day:) In the day or two before we moved in June, somebody closed the deep freezer lid after it was unplugged and before it had completely dried. Ew. Let’s just say that I had to arm myself with bleach, my handy dandy mask and some gloves and do some strenuous scrubbing! Thankfully, it is back in operation and mold free!

It became part of Eliana’s nightly routine to read books for a few minutes with a book light since we lived with my grandparents this summer. The room we stayed in had no window so it was pitch black when you shut the door and I would lend her my book light after I tucked her in each night. I always found it back on my bedside table when I came in to go to sleep:) She earned her very own little princess flashlight yesterday as a prize (she is holding it up in the picture) and she is very proud!

It’s apple season over here! It was a strange apple-picking year here and Ben never got to go, unfortunately, but we are still swimming in apples and yesterday I finally mustered up the energy to start dealing with them. So far I canned 8 half pints of apple butter (mmm..), made 4 mini loaves of delicious apple bread and froze 2 apple pie inserts. There are still many apples to go….if Ben doesn’t eat them all first!

I made a new chart for my kiddos today. (my phone takes awful pictures, sorry!) I originally made this chart just this past spring and while it was very helpful to have the ears/mouths for them to remove, it was also extremely annoying because the Velcro ripped off several times a week and I was constantly gluing them back on! I even attempted to sew them on but after 2 of them, I said forget it and decided to make something a little easier and with a little more of a positive spin!

This chart has room for the kiddos to move up, if having a good day, or down if having a rough day. I got the idea from pinterest and from new color charts that they seem to be using in the schools around here. It’s good for the kids to be rewarded, too! They start on Green and move up or down, depending on their choices, attitudes, etc. throughout the day.

Hopefully, they will not be moving down too much, or at least, all the way down! I put “Warning” for the first move down, “Trouble” for the second and “Rough Day/Try Again Tomorrow” for the 3rd. That’s a really bad day! Each move down comes with it’s own set of consequences, like time-outs for the littler ones, extra chores, loss of privileges/toys/etc. We have an envelope with a notecard in it that will be hung nearby for Ben and I to choose from a list we wrote out of consequences. Makes it easier to follow through quickly!

They each have their own decorated, initialed clothespin and they get to start fresh every morning! I even wrote in tiny letters, “His mercies are new every morning” on the Start square as a reminder to them and to me that grace is new each morning:)
The boys were really excited when they saw it this afternoon (updates on them coming soon!) and all three kiddos got to move up one space tonight because they got all of their sticks done (yep, we still do those and they still work!) and just had good afternoons/evening. I like being able to reward them in simple ways and make them feel good about their choices. Hopefully, it will inspire them to keep making good choices:)
Well, that’s all folks. Keep coming back and be sure to say hi in the comments sometimes!

Looking for the bright side..

I heard it was 80 in Texas today…..Here? It was 30 and we got MORE snow! Even Eliana is officially through with winter. I told her yesterday that we were going to get more snow and she said, “But I don’t want anymore snow!” No kidding, girlie.

But we try to look at the bright side when we can and the bright side today was that the trees were actually beautiful. The mix of rain and wind helped the snow stick to all of the trees so when you drove down the tree-lined street, it looked like you were driving under a canopy of frosting-covered trees. Really pretty.

However, bright side or not, go away winter!

Eliana and I went to MOPS today and I got to hear some advice from some more well-seasoned mamas. We have a “mentor” mother for each table, who is there to share her motherly wisdom and insights. Some of them seem so nice and grandmotherly:) We had to leave a little early to take Ben to get his license renewed. Somebody accidentally didn’t know his license expired until he went to buy me Sudafed this weekend. Oops! (shhh! don’t tell!)

Amazingly, we found a little express driver’s license place a half hour away and B was in and out in less than 15 min! Unheard of around here. The people inside were apparently decently friendly, too. Also amazing. Let’s just say that the majority of government run businesses in Chicago are not employing the happiest and softest of people. Actually, not just gov’t but a lot of retail. I think they get so hardened by the people that they see day in and day out and the situations they have to deal with.

I was so amazed when we moved out to the ‘burbs and started experiencing nice customer service on a regular basis! Something I do not take for granted.

*Samuel presented his poster today. His project got him so interested in space that he checked out a book about comets and asteroids from his school library:) I love when they get interested in different subjects!

*We are working out a few little bugs with our sticks system. It really has been wonderful; we’ve just had to tweak a few things. The weekends are run differently than the weekdays so we are adjusting to that and trying to figure out how discipline/punishments fit into the system and timing of our day.

Here is the chart I made. They earn an extra chore for each sign they have to take down and if they lose 3 in one day, they lose a colored stick. boo. Unfortunately, we had that happen for the first time today. Just really trying to crack down on not listening, arguing and talking back. It honestly hurts me as much as it does them. I know kids probably don’t believe that but it is so true. Hopefully, it will only take a couple of times and it won’t happen again.

*Zakkai got a couple of gift cards and a little $ for his birthday and bought some rollerblades!! He is SOOOO excited.

As you can see from his face:) The first night (in these pics) he couldn’t stand up on his own and needed a lot of help but by the next afternoon of some basement practicing, he was doing great! He cannot wait for the ground and sidewalks to dry up so he can get outside and get roller blading! I have a feeling the boys will be roller blading and skateboarding alllll summer long:)

*I made a delicious dinner tonight called, “Coconut Curry Chicken.” It’s a crockpot meal and so easy. I will have to share the recipe next time, as I am way too lazy to get up right now:) It is different from things I normally make but it has such a good flavor between the coconut milk and curry. I serve it over rice and everyone gobbles it up!

*B and I are holding strong with giving up our sweets for Lent. It really is good for us on so many levels. Anytime I get really tempted and think I can’t stand another minute without a little sweet, I say a prayer instead. The first few days were really tough but it’s getting so much easier now. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to our one little treat on Fridays;)

My mom had a good suggestion since she and my stepdad are doing “clean eating.” She said to make a smoothie in the evening if we are craving something. I have done it twice and just throw fresh and frozen fruit, some milk and spinach in the blender! I must’ve put in more spinach tonight though because Zakkai was like, “Um, why is the smoothie green??” But no one complained when they tasted it! I figure we are killing two birds with one stone: satisfying the sweet tooth and getting a good dose of extra fruits and veggies. Win win:)

Too bad chocolate isn’t a fruit. That would be a dream come true and I know I’m not the only one that would think so! Chocolate addictions run in my family and I don’t think anyone’s ashamed to admit it….

I should probably stop writing about chocolate. It’s not helping me:)

*Tomorrow night is the boys’ spring concert at school and they are so excited. They’ve been humming and singing little snippets of songs for weeks now. I know Eliana will really enjoy seeing her big brothers up on the stage!

Hopefully I will have a few pictures to share……Have a great night!

The Face and Charts!

Winter came back! Gone are the 50-60 degree days and instead, we have icy snow blowing and we’re back to winter coats and accessories. I wish the weather would make up it’s mind!

Miss E and I braved the morning rain and went to her first eye check-up since getting her cool new glasses. She did great! First time with no tears, although she did sport her new grumpy face half the time (see below). As soon as we pulled up in the parking lot, she put on grumpy face and said, “Wan’ it eye dotter.” “Wan’ it’ means DON’T want it in Fissy language!

She got a good report, lowered eyebrows and all, and doesn’t have to go back for 4 months!

More cuteness from yesterday:) She looked so cute in her dress and her brother’s shoes:)

Here is an example of “the face.” Sometimes she does it with no apparent reason at all! It’s a pretty darn cute grumpy face, if I don’t say so myself:)

And she’s back! She can turn on and off those emotions with the pro of a 2 year old:) In other Missy news, she peed on the potty for the first time tonight! I got her a little cheap potty from Ikea last week and I ask her before bath if she wants to sit on it. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t and there’s no pressure! Tonight she wanted to sit on the “big potty” and so I held her on there for a few minutes while she looked at a book and she went! Big girl!

Two of my main guys:) Both have new charts up with incentives to earn prizes. Samuel, who was jealous of Z’s chart, has a “Good Attitude-Be Nice” chart since he struggles with the attitude part and being nice to little bro. Zakkai has a “Potty Chart” because he’s working to stay dry all night. He even has a sign with a big toilet on it hanging right above his head on the bottom of Samuel’s bed that says, “Go Potty, Zakkai!” on it:) He’s such a deep, deep sleeper that he struggles in this area and often doesn’t want to leave his warm, cozy bed in the morning. With our new plan of Rays being gone and some other things we put in place, including the chart, he is ready to go! In the potty that is:)

Both were thrilled to earn stickers today and begin working for their rewards. Go boys, go! We can’t believe how easy it’s been to get Eliana off the paci and Zakkai away from finger-sucking. I guess they were ready! After all the battles we’ve fought over the years over many things, it’s nice to have a couple of them go easy on us!