Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update on Finny's Schedule

We're doing pretty well keeping on a schedule with Finny's OT activities. I plotted it out a couple of weeks ago, and we now have seven specific activities to do each day of the week, slotted about every other hour.

And I just had to write a quick post to say that I have seen a world of difference in Finny! Sure he still has his low days and his absent minded/space cadet days... but on the whole, he's really doing great. We have all as a family found that we can pretty easily identify when he's running "high" or "low" and even Finny seems able to recognize when he's not "just right," though he's still often confused about the details. When he starts overreacting to every little thing, or throwing fits over seemingly unimportant obstacles, we've learned that he's "low" and we need to do an activity. When he's not paying attention to his body or actions, apparently that's a "high" engine (Have I mentioned the whole engine thing? That's the program the OT has us working on with him that helps him learn better how to self regulate - like a car engine, our bodies need to be just right. If our "engines" run too low, it's like a broken down car. Too high is like a race car and can lose control. But just right is like a nice, average car in good condition - it can go where it needs to go but does not get so fast that it loses control. So that's how we talk around our house now - it's all about high, low and just right!) and he needs some attention with an activity, too.

I've definitely noticed that the times when I am not consistent with his activities through the day he has a much harder time regulating himself and flops from high to low depending on the day. So I feel very rewarded with the schedule in that I can see the difference it makes for him, so I keep at it, even when I have other things that feel more important at the moment.

But with the more predictable schedule, Finny does not fight the activities, even when one he's not in love with pops up. He is totally OK with whatever activity I have set for the moment, and he does it all virtually without complaint, which is a huge improvement from a few weeks back when I was the Big Mean Mommy and he felt so frustrated by ti all.

So, that's how things are going. A boy who is happier and healthier is a good sign to me that we're doing something right. And I am so happy to be seeing so much more of my happy, bright eyed and positive little Sunshine Boy!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I am trying to listen.

I want to hear.

I want to know.

I cannot shake the feeling that God is speaking to me. And for the life of me, I cannot seem to hear what it is He is trying to say to me.

Mary Grace once said something to me that she probably has long forgotten, but it has stuck with me for the past four years since she said it. It was when I was really searching God out (or He was searching for me, or both…) and feeling called to Christianity – but I was paralyzed by the fear of doing the wrong thing.

I was terrified to make the WRONG choice.

In my family, there seemed to be so many rules set up around how to believe and what to do for God. At that time, I really felt like if I went to a church, if I called God by the wrong name, if I did anything that wasn’t “just right” than He would reject me due to my own lack of understanding. My own wrongness, for lack of a better word.

Well, by this time Mary Grace and I were already pretty close friends and I went to her with these thoughts. I explained that I was praying constantly and wanting so badly for God to tell me what He wanted me to do. I wanted to know His “rules” for me, without the clutter in my mind of all the “family” rules for Him.

Mary Grace was quiet for just a moment before she responded. I remember that for some reason. And when she did, I was struck speechless (not a common thing for me, by the way).

Then she asked me, “But have you ever stopped to listen for His answer?”

Wow. Now, I admit that I am not the most stunningly intelligent person in the world, but I’m a pretty smart cookie. But to hear that calm, quiet, simple and obvious reply, well, I was just taken aback.

The answer you see, was “No.”

Praying, I was good at. Talking to God, that I had down. (Talking in general I'm pretty good at - but I digress) I asked question after question. Sheesh, I must have seemed like a tiresome 5 year old to God at times, always a new question, always wanting to know answers, even to things that really were none of my concern.

But listening? Truthfully, the thought had never before occurred to me.

But seriously. How on earth could I hear His answers to any of my questions when my entire brain was filled with the clutter of my own worries and thoughts?

Well, I won’t go into great detail, but that same day as I drove the twenty-odd minutes to the grocery store with my then three and one year old boys, I asked the Question that had been on my heart clearly and concisely one last time. Then I told God I’d not ask anything else, and I worked as hard as I possibly could to clear my mind of all the questions and clutter bouncing around in there. And then I waited.

And you know what? I had the most clear and perfect answer from God before I even hit the city limits of the town where our grocery store is. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was holding back tears and beaming a smile of sheer love and awe up the My Father in Heaven. I knew then and there that I was His child, and that He loved me – and that all He asked in return was that I love him back.

I do not throw this word around much – but the only way to describe it is to say that it was truly and awesome experience.

So, why do I throw all this old news out there at you? After all it was more than four years ago. I guess I just wanted to bring clarity to my struggles to listen. Still, after four years of following Christ’s lead in my life, of seeking His will first and of growing, changing, maturing, hurting, rejoicing, loving, living in Him… STILL I struggle to really hear His voice. Still I get so caught up in my own questions, my own busy little details, that I somehow don’t always leave room for God, Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth, to tell me what it is He wants me to hear.

So as I sat down this evening to fold a couple of loads of laundry before heading up for the night, I was overcome with a weight that I cannot quite describe. I felt burdened, weary, worried and insufficient. So as I always do in moments like that, I began to pray.

And that’s when Mary Grace’s sage advice from years ago came flooding back to me. I know it well, and have revisited it more than a few times over the years. But it hit me like a ton of bricks this evening. As I sat there folding all those precious little articles of clothing that those I hold dearest to my heart fill each day, I felt the clutter closing in around me as I asked and asked and ASKED of the Lord all that I wanted to know.

Then her words rang clear in my head, and I stopped, and told God that I was sorry, and worked to clear away the clutter – trying oh-so-hard not to ask any more of Him as I did so. And then I just waited.

Well, I can’t say I got as clear of an answer as the one given to me on that glorious car ride. But a funny thing did happen. I couldn’t shake the tune in my head of a worship song from Church yesterday. It’s not even a song I am particularly drawn to, but there it was.

No great profound revelation. No amazing clarity. Just a simple song of praise.

La la, la-dee-da-dee-dah dah… My God is mighty to save, He is mighty to saaaaave…

So that’s all I got.

And really, it wasn’t until I sat down here to put it all in words that I really realized that maybe, just maybe, He was calling me back to the point. Back to that day in the car. Back to another song that first brought me to Him as a daughter to a Father. Maybe, He just wanted to remind me that in all that happens each day - through all the sick boys (poor Goose) and all the teething girls and all the happy smiles and busy chores and school schedules and serving and classes and friends and husbands and shopping and planning and cooking and researching and praying and reading – I still need to make time for just plain old LOVING HIM.

So it’s back to the basics for me, I guess. Time for me to seek Him out and Love him, praise Him, worship Him. I think it’s time to turn on the Christian radio stations again during the day and just be brought back to a place of just Loving him. I mean, I always love Him. But how much time in my day to I actually devote to just Him, and Him alone?

Sadly, not nearly enough.

So. There you go. I am still struggling to keep clear the clutter and to hear His whispers to me. But tonight, I am actually pretty excited to run upstairs and sit in bed and think of a few of my favorite praise songs. And I am just going to sing my heart out to the One who has loved me better than anyone else ever has or ever will.

Man, am I glad that God is patient with me. Sometimes I feel as dumb as a brick. But thankfully He is always willing to wait for the fog to clear and for me to hear His voice calling me.

Thank you Lord, for speaking to me in that gentle, loving way that You know soothes my heart. Thank you for leaving the harsh admonitions behind, the ones that I most surely deserve but that you still do not burden me with. I ask only to be a parent to my children in the same, gentle and loving way that you are to me.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009



Today was a wonderful day.

Things have been a bit busy, so I had not had time to post before today to give much of a heads up, but my Punky Loo turned seven today.
Birthdays around here are pretty special. The first part of the Benny Birthday Traditions starts the night before, as I get everything perfectly prepared for the big day. I always stay up way too late reminiscing and writing out a very wordy and mushy card to my beloved child. Then I take a picture of them asleep in their beds – a tradition I started 6 years ago on the eve of Punky’s first birthday – to commemorate the last time I will see my baby at the age they are leaving behind. Then we head to bed and my mind swims and I sleep restlessly all night as I think over so much of life, love, parenting and my baby. Daddy takes the Big Day off of work (mostly because Mommy insists that these days count as national holidays around here, and since he writes his own schedule, it’s just sort of an understood) and the whole day revolves around the Birthday Boy (and soon enough to be Birthday Girl, though we’ve yet to go down that road in our parenting career!) and all of his wishes, wants and needs. Birthday Boy starts the day with a run into Mommy and Daddy’s room to snuggle in bed while waiting for the rest of the house to wake up. Then we all head downstairs and Birthday Boy sees a few mylar balloons floating in the living room, plus a handful of gifts sitting on the coffee table wrapped and ready to be opened. We all wait with baited breath as gifts that have been long thought out and worked on are opened and marveled over. It’s a fun time.

The Birthday Boy always chooses the Birthday Menu, so breakfast is already planned and ready to start. The usual Birthday Breakfast Favorite is my homemade cinnamon rolls, which we thoroughly enjoyed this morning. Today’s choice meals also included grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and chicken and dumplings for dinner.

We do parties often enough around here, but it’s not an annual thing for each child each year (that would be a lot of party for one Mommy to orchestrate and pull off since our birthdays hit one after another for pretty much the first seven months of the year!), so sometimes it’s a mellow family day, other times it’s a party day. And, though my husband and I differ here in our opinions, even if you have a party on a weekend day separate from your actual birthday, the actual day is still recognized in full as its own special day. The party is just a bonus. The actual full and sentimental celebration is on the real day.

So that is the basic rundown of a typical birthday for one of my kiddos. They hear the birthday song sung several times throughout the day. They get candles on most of their foods. They just get to feel plain old special all day long.

But onto the specifics of this particular wonderful day.
Last night Punky went to bed with just the littlest bit of sadness over the loss of being six, and the fear of beginning life as a seven year old, but we managed to squeak by without too many tears and he did go to bed in pretty good spirits and ready to take on the world come morning. Well, actually he was ready to take on the world at about 2am. But we sent his happy, wide awake self right back to bed and told him it was NOWHERE NEAR MORNING!
But, come actual morning, Punky slid right into our bed all full of life and light. He was so thrilled to be the Big Man of the day.

And boy, was it a great day!

He was delighted with his gifts, and we all had a fun time watching as he raced around the house with the note card clues I’d written up for his first ever birthday gift treasure hunt. He got a new bike for his birthday, which is a pretty big deal. So he followed clues all around the house until he ended up in the downstairs hall closet (otherwise known as the Lego room around here) where his bright yellow big-kid bike sat waiting for him, big red bows and all. Boy was he surprised!

He devoured the cinnamon rolls and couldn’t wait to get out the door to try that bike out with Daddy and the other boys. I hung out while Girly Pie napped and they rode around in the gray morning fog. The bike worked great.
He was so sweet all day and just a delight, though that’s his general MO anyway. He loved his lunch and requested his special cake (Batman, like Finny’s was last month) to go with lunch rather than after dinner.

Then he got a special treat when Daddy took him in his truck and they drove to a local bike trail (30 minutes away, so only sort of local, I guess) and they took a real Big Guy bike ride together. I don’t think our boy had ever had the chance to really ride hard and fast before today. He’s always had to wait for mommies pushing strollers or little brothers catching their breath or stopping to check out the scenery. So to get out just him and his dad, well, it was a pretty neat thing for him today.

He also got to blow some saved up money on a new Lego kit on the way home, which was a huge thrill for him. And one more surprise awaited him when he got home… his Grampa (my dad) had balloons and a gift basket sent for his birthday. So he was thrilled to come home to such a fun treat.

The only sad part of the day was poor Finny getting left behind for the bike ride, but he handled it well (thanks to his favorite movie!) though he was pretty lonely for his big brother by the time they got home.
Punky was happy all day long. It was one of those birthdays that you just know he’ll actually remember. The year he got his own brand new bike. The year he had to follow a trail of clues to find his big gift. The year it was actually sunny (in mid February – an event in and of itself!) and he got to ride on the bike trail with Dad. The year his cake looked like Batman. The year Grampa sent that huge basket full of goodies and two Lego kits! The year when Girly Pie was still a baby and she laughed at everything I did. The year his best friend Logan couldn't be with him on his birthday because L's mom had a nasty flu bug.
Seven. It’s just so big, and so little, all at the same time. He will actually remember things that happen to him at this age, and probably quite a few of them with pretty good clarity. He’s hitting his stride of childhood. Everything is fun. He’s old enough to be accountable for the fun he has and the choices he makes, but young enough to not have too terribly many responsibilities to weigh him down, either. He’s vaguely aware that time is slipping by, but he’s thrilled to just be here right now. He’s so mature and so capable of helping out and making the right choice. He knows right from wrong 9 times out of 10, and man does he have some "WOW!" things to say! He can keep up with the theology in the Narnia books and has a real love for God. But then the next moment, he’s just a goofy little boy who laughs at potty humor and still wants to read his baby brother’s board books while he uses the bathroom (TMI, I’m sure – but it’s just too funny to see this big kid head to the potty with an Eric Carle book for a nice relaxing sit-down!).

So yes, it was a wonderful day. A perfect day. It started out right, and ended right. And every step of the way my boy enjoyed himself and felt special and loved and blessed.

And how am I doing you ask? Well, I admit that more often than not I have some pangs of loss at birthday time – to let go of the joy that was and face the uncertainly of what is to come just niggles a bit for me. And particularly with my oldest, it’s just often a bit of a reality check as I realize that each year, no matter how young the baby is that I may be holding in my arms, my big boy is still going to grow up and move on. This season will end, some day. And birthdays, though so full of joy and celebration, always bring those thoughts up to the surface in a very tangible way for me.

But, I was surprised to find that this year, with Punky’s seventh birthday, I didn’t have as much of that as I often do. Today, and even leading up to it, I really honestly have been at peace. When that boy turned five I thought I was going to lose it – that was the peak of realizing that he was no longer a baby and he was going to grow up no matter what I did. But for some reason, seven is just perfect. He’s already proven himself a “big boy” so it wasn’t shocking to me to realize he’s no longer a baby. But he’s still young enough to seem like a little boy.
I don’t know quite how to put words to it, but he just seems to be just right right now. He fits himself perfectly. He’s big enough and small enough all at the same time. And you can see it in him, too. You can just tell that he is finding himself, and that he feels just right. So today, it was all happiness and peace, and no trepidation and anxiety.

Today I celebrated fully my seven years of motherhood and I basked in the glow of watching my boy shine brightly. He’s a pretty amazing boy, and I feel blessed to have him call me Mom. And though I know that the vast majority of the fine young man I see in him just came with the package, I do feel like we’ve done a pretty good job along the way with that boy. So it’s nice to feel like it’s all working out.

So happy seventh birthday, Punky Loo. I love you so much, my little Big Man.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Man

I have the best husband EVER!

Today my Man was so cute and funny with the kids. I can't remember the last time I giggled so much as I watched him play superhero with Goose today. Goose got a new little Batman figure, his very first superhero all for himself. And to hear my husband role play with Batman, Superman and Buzz Lightyear all to a 2 1/2 year old level - well there aren't words to say how stinking cute and funny he was.

He was the one who made it to the store to pick up a few trinkets for Valentine's Day for the kids, and he even made me dinner tonight! He made delicious shredded BBQ pork sandwiches and a wonderful spinach salad with a homemade vinaigrette dressing. We made chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert, and will enjoy those in a few minutes here. I had no idea he could make his way around a kitchen as well as he did tonight!

I just can't believe how loved and romanced I felt through all this, to have him plan the meal, do the shopping and prepare the dinner. I'm just so thankful I get to call him MINE! He's just an amazing guy. So Happy Valentine's Day to me. ;o) Thanks, Honey!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

War. Hngh. What is it good for?

Well, up until today I would have agreed with the chorus line and said, “Absolutely nothin’!”

But apparently Edwin Starr and I were wrong.

Apparently war is actually good for something. It’s good for sparking an interest in learning in young boys.

Go figure.

My home has definitely been suffering from the mid-winter fidgets. School has seemed fairly unappealing to all of us. History was fun enough when we were studying Egypt before the holidays, but I just couldn’t muster up a whole lot of enthusiasm as we closed that out and tried to sneak into Greece. Egypt just petered out very anti-climactically and then there was this pause as I tried to pull together a few fun Greek ideas.

But honestly, I can’t say that ancient Greece was one of my most beloved subjects in school, so I just haven’t been too terribly enthused to pull together anything to share with my boys. They like history, for the most part. And I really enjoy going from creation and working our way forward through time as Sonlight has us doing. I’m pretty sure history would have meant a whole lot more to me had I been taught that way, and I enjoy seeing my boys' budding awareness of history as God’s plan. The history books and the Bible going side by side through history. Really, it’s a neat thing.

But Greece. I dunno. It just didn’t feel much like a fun subject for four kids under seven.
Or so I thought, anyway.

We’ve been reading some Greek myths and picking Greece out on our map, and Punky has been following along well enough with Finny floating in and out of our reading time.

But today, I watched my children light up with an excitement that is generally saved only for Lego creations and toy weaponry. Today, I watched as history took on a life of its own in the eyes of my sons. Today, the Trojan War brought ancient Greece to life for two young boys.

And it was the coolest thing ever!

It started in the usual way as I brought together a few quiet activities for the big boys to work on while I read from our history books. Punky mostly played, but being the auditory whizz that he is, I could tell he was still absorbing enough to call it school. Finny sat coloring some pages from an Ancient Greece coloring book and Girly Pie crawled round chewing on the fallen crayons.

Punky was less than amazed as we talked about Homer and his poetry. He was not terribly impressed with the Greek accomplishment of standards for coins to increase their trading power and wealth. Really, I was about to call history done for the day and pull out Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for our read-aloud time.

But then I grabbed the Children’s History of the World book and noticed that today’s chapter was on The Fairy Tale War, otherwise known as the Trojan War. So I went ahead and read it.

I forget that raising little boys is a far cry from raising small versions of myself, only with different genitalia. Wars, fighting, trickery, battles over beautiful women – none of that really hits home for me. I read it. I absorb what I need to. I move on.

But my little men… WOW. That is the stuff dreams and passions are made of! Punky immediately lights up and recalls how his aunt once gave him a brief synopsis of the Trojan horse story. Suddenly he’s pacing in circles around the room as he starts spouting off quite a few details of a story she told him months or even a year or two ago. He continued the excited pacing (a sure sign for him that he's excited and trying to funnel all his excess energy and excitement into a somewhat productive activity) as I read the fairly dry version from the history book, and then when I pulled out the picture book with the same story written with a few more interesting details and full of pictures and color he was still and fully attentive. His eyes were glued to the pages of the book. Finny was scanning the pages picking up the colors, plotting out his Trojan horse coloring pages. Punky was scheming away at the multitude of play opportunities this story offered. We eagerly discussed the details of both versions of the tale and pondered over which parts could be true, which were certainly false, and whether or not any of it was really likely to have happened. Everyone participated. Everyone had something to add. Finny had his colors chosen and ready to fly on the paper. Punky was designing his own Lincoln Log version of the Trojan horse in his head.

Suddenly, Greece is a pretty darn impressive little spot on the map. Suddenly, this whole Greek history thing is really COOL!

As I worked on photocopying the coloring pages for Finny, Punky disappeared, only to reappear shortly to proudly announce that he had already begun his Lincoln Log horse. He was ready for their afternoon rest in their room to begin. After all, he had a horse to build, a walled city to erect and an exciting battle to recreate.

So there you go. War. It’s actually good for igniting the fiery passion of learning in boys. I can’t say I really get it myself. And I’m not personally looking forward to all the future historic wars yet to come in our homeschooling career. But luckily for me, there are plenty of those wars to learn about. So I’ve got a good chance at having at least three interested little souls in this house that will happily gobble up history over the next decade or two.

So take that, Mr. Edwin Starr.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Well, today we are starting our OT therapy schedule for Finny, and even though it is just one small part of our day, and only really aimed towards one small person in the house, I think it is already making a world of difference.

I feel more productive, I feel ready to direct Finny, and I feel good knowing that when the kitchen timer beeps every two hours(thank you Mary Grace for yet another useful idea) I have something written down and ready to follow.

And the funny thing is I have been dreading the idea of sitting down and writing out any sort of schedule forhis OT activities for weeks! It just felt like such a daunting and overwhelming task. But when I finally sat down and put the rough draft together last night, it wasn't a big deal at all. Of course it's not complete - I did just list seven activities for each day (one for every two waking hours) but did not put them in any particular order. That way I have the freedom to pick a more intense activity if he needs it, or a simple, short one if I do not have the time or attention to spare for him at that particular moment. I find I work better with a structure, but I still need flexibility or I tend to just quit when I fall behind or get overwhelmed.

So really, for Day 1, it's hard to say how good of a schedule it is. I can only hope that it will continue as well as it has started. Plenty of time to fall off the path of good intentions, after all. But I feel good today and I really enjoy having some direction in this area of my life.

Also, I started my first day of sneaking in one extra chore per weekday. Monday mornings will be the day that, in addition to the normal daily chores, I do a pick up and tidy in the little guys' rooms. Finny and Punky share a room and are responsible for keeping it clean. They pick up daily, but do a full clean every Friday morning. But Girly Pie and Goose are too little to pick up their own rooms, and I tend to fall behind when I set something on their dressers or someone takes a toy out and no one gets around to putting it away. Though their rooms are not terrilbe, they are often untidy and cluttered looking. And really, they will have years of havign messy big kid rooms. I'd like to enjoy them while they are still cute, little guy rooms. So Monday morning seems a good time to plan on a slightly more formal attempt at making their rooms look neat and sweet.

So there is a quick update on my progress as I make efforts to improving my own follow through and organization. I'm still looking forward to other helpful hints. The one I got so far was a great reminder to just take baby steps and try one thing at a time so I don't overload and give up. Thanks for the tip, Tree Climbing Mom! ;o)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Working out the kinks

Any suggestions from folks out there on how they keep on top of all that they need to do to keep a large family with small children running smoothly? Oh, and get them educated, too?

I can tell that some of my recent feelings of floundering are coming from a decided lack of organization. I have made efforts to do a few little schedules up this evening, though I admit I am terrible at following a moment by moment daily schedule. I am terrible at follow-through on many things in my life, and that is a personal weakness that I am working on and will continue to work on as long as I live here on earth, no doubt. But I would like to get a better handle on things around here.

I have mastered the laundry schedule, finally (which is no small task... so I'm really quite pleased with that one!). But I am really woefully inept at meal planning and chore scheduling. I am pretty good at getting my kids interested and learning each day, but I can't say it's because of my great school planning skills. I think much of my daily energy goes into figuring out things to do on the fly, especially with the younger set. I just put most of my thought into the first grade stuff for Punky, and the little guys just kind of float, or I pull out a quiet activity like play dough or diggers and rice. I do follow Sonlight for much of what we learn, but I still just pull stuff as we go through the day.

I dream of setting aside an evening each week and really planning out what we do for the week, so I have activities for all four of my children at any given point in the school week. Is that a reasonable goal?

But, for tonight, I feel pretty accomplished after having made a weekly schedule for Finny's occupational therapy activities. I'm supposed to have him doing some sort of sensory activity every two hours or so every day. And I have failed at that daily since we started it all before the holidays. So I hope that I can at least stick to this and maybe our days will feel a bit more smooth. I also got a little chart of an extra daily chore for myself. I do the daily stuff - kitchen cleaning, picking up, laundry, meals, all that stuff. But the bigger things like bathrooms and keeping our master bedroom clean tend to fall by the wayside. So we'll see if one bigger chore each day is doable.

It must be something about my baby getting closer to a year. I seem to recall getting back on schedule when Goose was closing in on one, too. Girly Pie is still not even nine months old, so she's not coming right up on her birthday, but as this second half of her first year of life winds down, I realize how much grace I have given myself over the past year (because of course I was less diligent as my pregnancy came to an end, too). Now, I can honestly say that I do not regret a moment of the "slack" time I've had. All that slacking in schedules and chores went mostly to welcoming our newest family member and spending as much time as possible with each of my children as we grew accustomed to that one new little soul in the house. I made a conscious effort to spend time daily just staring at her new little face, memorizing her features and soaking up all those fleeting but precious little newborn moments. I really tried to make time for Goose even though it was easier many days to just let him do his own thing. I put in the time to read the really memorable books with Punky and Finny, even if they were happy to play off together without me - I didn't want to lose touch with them.

So no, I did not get as much done this past year as I might have planned. But I got a ton of things done that really, in the long run, were much more important and worthwhile.

But still, this first year of life as a family of six is winding down, and I realize that it is indeed time to get in gear and step up my expectations of myself. I have memorized Girly Pie's features by now, and she's crawling and into everything, so I do not need to set aside so much time in the day to just sit and stare at her. She's going to bed at a very reasonable hour so I have free hands every evening now, so there is no excuse to just waste away all my evenings puttering and relaxing. I really can get practical things accomplished in the few hours between the kids' bedtime and my own. I can still get the fun stuff done, as well as push myself just a bit more in the down moments to get something useful done.

So, off I go to wrap up an evening of planning and plotting. Any suggestions for nice daily home managing techniques would be greatly appreciated. I love seeing how others do things and finding ways to tweak them to fit my own needs.