Thursday, January 10, 2008

Total overhaul here at Chez Ouiz

And my apologies to those who have been wondering, "Where the heck ARE you?"

I've been cleaning and organizing (hasn't everyone? It seems like it...)

I finally hit the wall when we got back home after our Christmas visit to my parents' house. I was OK when we unpacked our suitcases, but once the toys were brought in, I went crazy. NOTHING had a home, I felt like my entire house had been turned upside down, and somehow I was supposed to turn this into a peaceful sanctuary for me and my family?

I was a mess.
And that was where my dear, sweet, wonderful husband stepped in.

He took his last two days of vacation and TOGETHER we went through the house, room by room, focusing on those areas that I felt were completely out of control (in my mind). TOGETHER we figured out what needed to be done to house the things that had no home... to make space where there once was none... and to optimize whatever room we have here to make it work for us.

It took two solid days of work, and he wound up putting a lot of things on his "to do list." God bless him!

I was so close to the issue I couldn't see it clearly any more, so I needed his help more than ever.

Besides helping me to see ways that we could fix all the problem areas in our home, my dh also encouraged me to pick up the "control journal" (for all you flybabies out there) I had made several years ago and see if I could use that to help me get my day more organized.

Since that time (almost 2 weeks ago), I can say that my home has been MUCH more restful. While there has still been the inevitable mess that comes with a large family of small children, it hasn't been overwhelming to me anymore... which is a HUGE answer to prayer.

Part of my reluctance to post this has been that it is still a new commitment to the "system" I've got going here, and I have to see how well it suits me once all the "new" has worn off and I'm no longer so aware of the fact that I need to be following it. However, on the off-chance that this is helpful to someone, I'll show you what I've been working on. (I'm still working on the "visual" part of it, because I'm very picky about things like this. So yes, the cover and the inside pages are two completely different styles... I'm trying to figure out how I want things to look -- but that's OK. I can still use the system while I tweak the pages... and play around with the design for the "final product" in the evening))

There's nothing "earthshaking" about my daily routine, but I needed to plan out for myself how I wanted the flow of my day to go. That took more time than I care to admit! While I was so tempted to follow Dawn's (from By Sun and Candlelight) idea of creating my own daily planner, I chose to use what I already had in place.

And here I've got the typical detailed cleaning for "zones," thanks to the FlyLady. I had done this years ago, but the lists needed some revisions.

I also needed to get a grip on homeschooling. We've managed to continue having our regular schooling days after Grace was born, but *I* had lost focus. I could feel my brain shift gear from "let's learn something new" to "let's crank out as much paper as possible so we have plenty to show the accountability group in January." I was more concerned about filling in enough boxes to make our day look productive than I was in making sure they were learning well, or even having fun.

That also was a major prayer request, and God again used my husband and Dawn (from By Sun and Candlelight). I was sooooo inspired by her theme pages for each month of the year (I dare you to read this and not be inspired!) Once I saw her plans for the month, ideas just started swirling in my head and I began to get really excited about teaching again. My dear, sweet, wonderful husband INSISTED that I go into the office, lock the door, and plan ALL WEEKEND LONG. It was heaven! I was able to pull out all the books I've accumulated over the years, rethink where we were going, come up with my own theme plan for the coming months, etc.

I was also able to finally get some sort of order of subjects for each day. Too often I would start one child in one subject, jump to another for a different child, try to teach a third, keep the next three kids occupied, and breastfeed Grace... all at the same time. I was going nuts. Now we've got a simple system for our homeschooling day.

Monday - Thursday
Math for the older kids (feels almost blasphemous to start out this way, but it wasn't working the other way, so I'm giving this a try) while I work with Christopher on his reading/writing/math.


Catechism lesson for all with discussion
Memory work -- Latin review, poetry, phonograms, etc
Spelling (new list on Mon, test on Thursday)
Language Arts

Break (start lunch, fold laundry)

Alternate history/science during lunch


Math for older kids, Christopher reads


Art project, illustration of narration/poem, art lesson, or whatever



My biggest joy in getting my "theme pages" together was actually picking out read-alouds and poetry for each month. Poetry has always been fun for my kids, and I've let that slide way too much in order to get the "important" things done. Not any more!

I've also given myself the freedom to be more flexible. Take today, for example. Grace had to go in for her first round of shots (my poor baby!), and we had to be at the doctor's office by 9:30 am. Instead of trying to cram everything in during the afternoon hours (a completely useless undertaking, I might add), I gave myself permission to focus on the themes for this month and not stress out. We had a great time cutting out snowflakes, reading poems about snow, making lemon snowball cookies, learning how to cook in the kitchen, talking about our saint for the month (St. Agnes), listening to the Medieval Babes, etc. It was a thoroughly enjoyable homeschooling day!

My goodness... I've rambled on long enough. I hope this winds up being of interest to someone out there!


Matilda said...

Sounds like your husband is an awesome support for you. You two make a good team!

Amy said...

"I could feel my brain shift gear from "let's learn something new" to "let's crank out as much paper as possible so we have plenty to show the accountability group in January." "

That's exactly what I was doing, LOL!
i think my brain could handle nothing else. Slowly getting back in gear here - this post is very helpful.

suburbancowgirl said...

ME! ME! It's been useful to ME!

I'm launching into the next year of school (you know me, starting in January, ending in November works for me!) and had a complete melt-down on Sunday night. Yep. Knew a long time ago that I needed a plan, but didn't work on it until then. My DH had take a half day of work on Monday while I locked myself into our classroom to just get one week's schedule done. I point blank stated that I need four hours this weekend without being interrupted to get the rest of the Quarter complete.

Anyhow, thanks for your post! Glad to see that we're in this together!!!!!!

SuzanneG said...

Whew! You got A LOT done in that weekend....what a blessing! Good job. Prayers for you in the next few weeks as you continue the "flow" and routine.

Beth said...

You are so inspirational Ouiz! I want to be like you someday :)

And poor Grace. Those first shots are SO sad!

Ouiz said...

WOW! Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

My husband is WONDERFUL, and yes, together we make a good team. Separately, well... let's just say that I don't think we'd do so well! LOL

I didn't really go into the theme pages as much as I wanted to, but it has been soooooo helpful for me to get those down on paper.

God bless you all!

Jennifer F. said...

I just love your journal! One thing that jumps out to me is your use of pictures. I think that's a great idea. It helps you remember at a glance what you're supposed to be doing instead of having to look at a jumble of text.

I know what you mean about hesitating to talk about a new system before you know it works. I'm doing something very similar on my blog right now (except for the waiting part).

I can't wait to hear more about your new system!