Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well, school's out and we're loving summer so far! We've had a few days, yes, when the kids have been at each other's throats off and on as they adjust to being with each other more than normal. And we've had some bumps as we get into our summer routines. But all in all, it's so nice to have more time with these kids who I quite thoroughly enjoy these days. I'm so excited that all the kids are old enough to enjoy so many of the same things and I feel like I'm finally in my element a bit more as a mother - I "get" older kids better than babies. The kids still want and need a LOT every day - but I don't have that "totally overwhelmed with 5 mutually exclusive needs at any given moment" feeling that I had for a lot of years. I'm really having more fun and less stress as a mom now and I'm so grateful for that.

We're getting our summer routine down pretty well. The three oldest kids have a list of a bunch of things they can do each day and they're supposed to complete 10 things from the list (they have to do journal writing and reading, but there's a lot of flexibility beyond that). Some of the things on their list are group activities - together, we can work on Spanish (we're loving the simple on-line free program Coffee Break Spanish - 15 minute lessons), read a chapter in a book, learn a new song, go on a bike ride or swimming, or research something from our "wondering list" (a list of things the kids bring up that they're wondering about - so far we've found great informational youtube videos on how to make yogurt, how cars get made, where baby carrots come from and monster trucks - can't avoid that with 4 boys).

Ashton's working hard on his guitar and has got some chords down. He's always completing his reading first thing in the morning then going on to read in every spare moment all day. My big goal for the summer for Isaac is to get him to WANT to read - it's still such a painful process to get him reading much of the time. But math - that kid is a whiz. And he's leading the group on doing work around the house - no surprise there - he's a worker and knows how to get a job done. Eliza is whipping through her math and writing workbooks (when I took her to the store to pick our her Kindergarten graduation present, the main thing she wanted was workbooks) and has only 2 more books to read all by herself before she'll have finished the 10 books she has to read to earn a reading lamp for her bedroom (this has been a fun motivator for each of the kids as they've learned to read). The twins are loving the fact that one of the most popular "electives" on the big kids' daily list is teaching one of the twins something new. Ollie and Si have loved learning to write various letters and working on their biking techniques and having books read to them by the older kids.

I've loved having the time with the kids to get into this stuff! Jared set up a googledoc spreadsheet to track their points and at the end of the week, we total them up and they get money based on the number of points they have earned. Yesterday, as Ashton was doing some extra jobs to try to get more points (Saturday is for extra points), he said "Mom, this is so great, we get to do all these fun things and then we get paid for it!" I'm so glad it's feeling that way for him - at least so far!

Each of the kids is saving up for something they really want so they've been pretty motivated to get their stuff done - plus there's a little healthy competition involved as they compare how many points they have. It's pretty darn nice to have kids come up to me and say "Mom, do you have a job for me?" as they try to complete their points for the day (one of the things on their list is to do a random little job I assign them). Most importantly, the kids seem to be having fun with learning and doing meaningful activities. I'm not opposed to the kids watching some TV but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the TV didn't get turned on all week - we had too many other fun things to do!

I'm so glad I decided not to do summer workshops for all the neighborhood kids. I really struggled with whether or not to do the workshops this summer - they went so well last summer and I have all the curriculum put together after all that work last year. But I just felt like I needed to enjoy time with my own kids more this summer and have a little more flexibility and less stress. I've been so involved in all three kids' classrooms this summer plus doing Joy School for the twins and their friends so I felt like I put in my time actively teaching other people's kids this year already. I feel like the kids are all so much fun right now - I just want them to myself and want them to have me to themselves for a while. I am setting up some super-simple summer school co-ops where I'll switch off with other moms doing simple and fun activities with our kids that are the same age as each other. And we're doing swim lessons down at the pool starting in a week. We've got field trips planned to Bryce and the Las Vegas children's museum plus lots of stuff around here and we'll do swimming with friends every Wednesday and the splash park with friends on Mondays. So we've got some structure to our weeks and some exciting things to look forward to (I've realized I go a bit crazy when I don't have some set structure and some things to look forward to!). I'll let you know how things go!

We rode our bikes to the farmer's market at Tuachan yesterday and then rode them to get lunch at Bajio. Lots of bike riding! The weather wasn't too hot and the scenery was gorgeous and it was just such a nice family day. Days like yesterday make me love this place so much.

Here's to summer!

Isaac's Last-Day-of-School Party - only two kids showed up but they brought their siblings (Liza's friends) so it worked out perfectly - I was nervous that we'd get too many kids and it would be a crazy thing! With the kids' school, it's pretty funny putting on a party - you can end up with WAY more people than you invited or WAY less - people just don't RSVP.
Liza with Tanner and Cole - she was so excited they showed up
and held her own very nicely with these boys.


Allison said...

Oh wow! With school only a week a half form being out I've been trying to decide on which "method" I'll use to make our summer one that we'll all enjoy! I jotted down questions for you mind sharing?

What sort of reading lamp do your kids earn? Is it one they clamp on their bed to stay up a few minutes later using to read? I can see this being very motivating for my oldest!

Could you send me the link to your free spanish lessons online? I'm always looking for ways to help Dallin keep up on the spanish he's learned all year, and now Ashton will start his Dual language education this Fall!

Im intrigued by your point system! How much money do they earn per/point? Do some things get more points than others? Do you mind sharing your point tracking document?

I realize I'm picking your brain...I just really LOVE how you make things so fun for your kids! You could email me if you want...

chanfamily (at) byu (dot) com.

Thanks SO much! Here's to a great summer! Oh, and I've put a power of moms button on my blog! I love it!

shawni said...

Great summer ideas, Sar. We just have the normal "deal" stuff, but maybe we should do that point thing too. Is there something Ash is using to learn guitar? Elle wants to do that too.


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