October 29, 2015

Summer System

The leaves are changing into those crisp, rich colors of fall. The weather is chilly. We are in full swing of Halloween celebrations. So I think this is a perfect time to talk about summer.


I get so excited about the summer each year. A big part of that excitement stems from being able to plan a summer system that keeps us motivated, learning, and accomplishing, but not so busy that we all want to scream. I tweak this system every year. Past years here and here.

This year Kyler and Kacin each had a laminated card with their daily responsibilities listed. They marked things off as they went. They had to have a total of 30 points at the end of the week to earn their payment. However, they couldn't like skip piano all week and just do everything else to get their points. They had to have a balance of everything.

We made a list of things they wanted to work for at the beginning of the summer. We plugged the payments in on the week they worked out for us. They worked for things like itunes gift card, baseball cards, junk food day, dinner with mom and dad, or new shoes.

It was pretty regular stuff on our list--morning routine (which includes chores), exercise, read, piano. But we added some awesome touches. 

Sib Time:
This was my favorite, most brilliant idea for our family. I talked about it a little here. You can see Kacin's plan for Sib Time with Perry for the week in the picture above. It worked beautifully. They've always loved each other, but the olders and the littles learned to love spending time with eachother through Sib Time. Their bonds were strengthened And my favorite thing about it is that it continues today (without formal plans). They happily spend time with each other. Sometimes referring to their activities as sib time, and sometimes just playing and having fun. 

Mom Time:
This was a super close to first of my favorite part of our summer system. The older boys joined me for Mom Time each day (well, most days). I wanted to spend time with them--teaching them, having fun with them, and enjoying our time together. We settled into a little pattern, but I could always decide what I wanted to do that day. We pretty much always started with jokes--silly jokes I found off the internet or that they already knew and would tell me. Then I would share a short message or lesson or my thoughts about a scripture, story I heard, something I learned recently, or had been thinking about. Then we would read. We spent the summer reading the book "What Katy Did". 

I wanted this Mom Time to continue once the summer ended, but our schedules are so packed right now. I am hoping I can soon (like when soccer ends) find a time to start up Mom Time again, at least once a week. But it might have to be a summer thing. I'm not sure yet.

There were two activities each day. I tried to plan these at the beginning of the week. They were usually math sheets,word searches, brain puzzles, research, etc. For example, my sister will be moving with the air force to one of two countries in a few months. So the boys each took one of the countries and did a little research on them.

I told myself if this summer system ever felt stressful and like too much we would drop it. But it really worked out well. The weeks that we traveled or had camps, we didn't do it. If there were days we were busy, we just crossed out those things we didn't get to and reduced the number of points needed. So really, it was perfect for us this summer.

What did Layla and Perry do? Good question. They watched a lot of TV. 

Ha! Mom fail. 

No, I did spend a lot of time with them and worked on some "school" projects with them, but we were never consistent with a program. We played and went to the children's museum. We tried to get better at doing chores. 

I'll just say, because of their ages, they get a lot of attention and time. And their personalities are different then the older boys. I do think next year Layla would be ready for a summer system though.

October 28, 2015

Octoberfest: a rootbeer tasting

Eric and I threw a little party. While usually I am the main event planner around here and E just goes along with it, he was pretty stoked about this particular party. Because it involved soda. It was a rootbeer tasting.

We offered 12 different varieties of rootbeer to taste.

Each person got their own little mug to sample with.

Everyone could vote on a couple of their favorites.

At the end of the night, the top Rootbeer brews were: Frostie (a sweet, vanilla rootbeer. almost cream soda like), IBC, Tower, and Henry Weinhard's.

My personal favorite, even after trying all of these real deal rootbeers, is A&W. You just can't beat it!

This kind received 0 votes. The pecan flavor just didn't do it for any of us.

I wrote a little blurb about each rootbeer.

We also had 5 rootbeers pre-poured into numbered cups. The goal was to identify the five different rootbeers--Mug, Barq's, A&W, diet A&W, and Big K. I made a little matching sheet to fill out.

The guests brought appetizers and desserts and we got sick off of rootbeer. It made for a super fun night.

Eric was still going strong even after the guests left. He was happy to finish off a bottle at the end of the night after everyone went home.

See, even mormons know how to celebrate Oktoberfest.

October 23, 2015

October General Conference and pajamas

This last General Conference was such a spiritual feast for me. My kids are finally in a better place and in stages that I could really listen to most of conference. I learned so many things. I heard things I needed to hear. I'm so glad we have access to these talks so we can read them and listen to them over and over again here.

Kacin and I picked out our traditional October General Conference weekend pajamas together. We went with Star Wars in honor of the release of the new movie soon. There are a few excited boys about that new movie around here.

October 22, 2015

Fall Farms

It's that wonderful time of the year again. So far we have hit three different farms to visit pumpkin patches and wander through corn mazes.

Layla and I joined a friend and had a wonderful morning riding a wagon, exploring the corn maze, and picking out the perfect pumpkins.

I had a moment of courage and took all four kids to another pumpkin patch all by myself while Eric had to work.

As a family, we made our way through a corn maze last weekend.

Poor Eric had to work allll weekend long and respond to emails, even while we were in the corn maze. He has had a crazy, stressful week at work and we will all be glad when this Surface launch is over. He tried so hard to give us as much attention as he could.

Kyler took over the camera for awhile.

Layla and Perry LOVED leading us around using the map.

I feel so lucky to live so close to so many fun, beautiful farms.