Where did March go? (New Year’s goals review and plans for April)

Did I just say April? Wow!

March has flown for me, and I honestly can’t think of why. However, it is that time again to review the month (specifically the plans we made for March) and to make a new list of how to execute those New Year’s goals, resolutions, plans, and priorities in April.


I’m going to do my best to make this short and sweet. I will divide my March list into three categories: accomplished or improved; effort made, but not enough; and did not happen.

At this point I would like to say that there are still four whole days left in March, and I do actually plan to do some of these things in that time. = ) Hopefully.

Accomplished or improved

*Chalkboard ready for the next day in the afternoon (being generous)

*Park every week with the girls

*Getting to church earlier to see Paul before services start (seriously, just writing down that little goal made a big difference in how I prepared all month!)

*Plan for spring cleaning (the plan has begun, but is not yet finished. It’s much more fun to put effort into the planning than the work!) = )

*Get caught up on laundry, fold as it comes out of the dryer. I am pleased as punch to announce that none of our hampers are currently over half full. This will come as a shock to any and all who know me and these conditions are still considered by the National Laundry Service as unpredictably sustainable.

*Piano lessons have been restarted! Yay!

Effort made, but not enough

*Clothes ready the night before, prayer in the morning instead of checking weather/email/facebook

*Exercise three times a week. This is perilously close to being in the did not happen category.

*More science with school

*Evaluate weekly activities; eliminate those which bring more stress than benefit

*Work on Awana verses. In all fairness and self-defense, this one could almost be in the accomplished or improved category.

Did not happen

*Read at night

*Make list of things we might need for baby

*Organize Mckayla’s room

*Go to church library

*Make list of expectations for girls

*Purchase organizing stuff

*Dream up an entryway project


Well, with all that, here are just a few additional comments regarding the original list.

~ I taught the girls to wipe down the sink and toilet with a lysol wipe and have scheduled a day for them to do that every week. So far they’ve done great and remembered on their own. This is an accomplishment in the “chores” department. As well, they are doing very well making beds in the morning and putting shoes away right when we come in the door.

~ Our surfaces are overall a tiny bit more cleared off and clean. Why is it so hard to keep them that way?

~ I have an idea for something to do on the girls bathroom wall.

~ We are really enjoying reading the biography of Louis Braille! I’ve learned so much and been so inspired.

~ Weekly homeschool planning has not happened for a few weeks now. This hasn’t devastated our days or weeks, but I want to get back on track.

~ Night time sleep is beginning to look a little more prioritized! Keep it up!


Okay, so those were all general things from my original list in January 2014. Now I will try to think through specific things to accomplish or grow towards in April. I think I will try to make a more concise, attainable list as it seems March was somewhat overshot.

*Begin spring cleaning. Try to finish the top two-thirds of the house (ceilings, walls, and furniture).

*Continue to work towards being early for events (church, appointments, etc.) not just on-time.

*Keep a Bible and pen by the bed. Take the minutes you have to read and make notes, even if it’s not the extended time you would like.

*Think through any birthdays or events happening in April and May. Try to plan ahead.

*Work to spend twenty minutes after the girls go to bed being productive in the house. (Happy sidenote: I’m sleeping in a slightly different position and my back is feeling much better during the day!)

*Choose reading, writing, or playing the piano with day and night time “free time.” And don’t just write this, do it! Grrr!

*Make a small list every week of specific prayers for the girls, Paul, and others. Think through even in a small way what I’m really asking for on their behalf.

*Exercise four times a week. Yowza. What was I thinking? I need to come up with a major reward if I actually do this. = )

*Organize the girls room. And Mckayla’s room. And what’s left of our room. And spring clean. And climb Mt. Everest.

*Buy a candle

*Plan the upcoming homeschool week on Friday afternoon

*Read more from our current poetry book

*More training time with the girls, talk about expectations

*Listen to Hope as she practices piano and violin at least two times a week.

*Teach Sophia long-vowel sound words. She wants to read so badly!

*Cuddle with Gracie

*Play with and tickle Mckayla.


Those last ones aren’t really list-worthy; but as the baby due date draws near and I spend more time resting, I want to consciously spend sweet time with the girls.

I don’t believe I succeeded in making the April list short. I think I will copy and paste it to a notepad so I can view it more easily throughout the month. Oh dear! This is Easter month! I have some new ideas of ways to celebrate that will definitely take some thought and preparation, but that will have to wait for another post.

Until then…. thanks for reading!

Three months down, nine to go.
Three months down, nine to go.

So let’s talk about February (and make a long list for March)

It was the middle of December when Paul looked at me with blurry eyes and said, “Baby, if we can just make it through February 15.”

I’m here to tell you that February 15 has come and gone and we made it! By the way, I am so proud of my husband and how much he gives to those he works with and for.

On my end, February was filled spilled-over busyness from Paul’s responsibilities and unexpected challenges. There have been some bizarre and annoying pregnancy symptoms that have just majorly slowed me down. I was just reading through my February list of things to focus on and thinking, “Yeah, I was sleeping when I would have been doing that.” Have you ever realized your kids had five minutes left to finish breakfast and been like, “Sweet! I’m going to lay down on the couch because I cannot hold my head up any longer.” (and not because of staying up too late) = ) That makes you feel real optimistic about your day from 9:30 on.

However, if I had to summarize the month… I’m really proud of all we did. The girls (especially the big ones) were amazing with everything else going on. Paul put on an amazing middle school conference and finished the work for one of his seminary classes. Woohoo! Three more credits down, baby! And I have lived to see the light of March. = )

Here are my comments and thoughts from my February goals; next will be general thoughts from my original New Year’s goals, priorities, plans, and resolutions; and last will be specific ideas for March.


Going to bed and waking up earlier? Improvement, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Might write a post soon about finishing well at the end of the day. Spoiler! I don’t normally.

Exercise? Average of twice a week. I’m really starting to enjoy it and want to do it more.

Reading? Pretty good. Need to do a little better to finish What Jesus Demands from the World and Robert Frost’s Poems by the end of March.

Biography for Hopey? She picked one on Louis Braille and we read a little, but are nowhere near done. a la February. (anyone recommend a way to learn how to pronounce French fast?)

Bible memory and reading? picked Ephesians 4 to memorize and did not finish the minor prophets (possible post coming about a different method to memorize)

Training in the morning for the little girls? Helped a lot, plan to continue

Organize our bedroom? small chuckle… clearing of the throat… well… our closet has been organized. Lots of stuff thrown out or put in a better place. There’s still a lot of work to do. However, the March room to organize can probably be done in about a day, so there should be time to finish our room. I just have to stay motivated and determined. I love the results!

Menu planning and grocery shopping? Eh? I will say that I have insured that there are ingredients to make pasta with homemade alfredo sauce on hand at all times. We’ve eaten that, oh, about five times this month. Then I had this idea to make creamy chicken enchiladas, so I did; and quickly realized it was a very similar dish. Just keepin’ the lady makin’ the baby happy. = )

Morning responsibilities for the girls? We (Paul and I) had a fun conversation about expectations and what we need to see from the girls. More on this in the March list. However, I do think the girls did pretty good with taking care of their stuff in the mornings.

Toys? Tubs bought? Check. Toys sorted and put away. The girls actually helped with this and I thought that was really good. We also put away a huge amount of stuffed animals to be brought out for parties or school or special things. This has made a huge improvement in the neatness of their rooms and the amount of time it takes for them to make their beds.



To be more organized and prepared… I feel again some small measure of success here. Thinking ahead a little bit more… one small example: I am normally frustrated on someone’s birthday around here because no matter how much I think or prepare, it always seems like I come up short. Especially because I never remember to clean the house or have it neat and orderly for that day, I realize on the actual day that everything is a mess and we don’t have a “blank canvas” on which to celebrate. That being said, two days before Sophia’s birthday I remembered this! and vacuumed! and cleaned stuff up! and on the morning of her birthday the house was not perfect, but it was good enough. And while it probably didn’t make any difference to her, it certainly did to me. That being said, pregnancy brain is in full effect, so all efforts and successes are subject to change. = )

I did not do well with playing the piano this month. As already mentioned, I was probably sleeping.

It’s funny when you realize you did “better” praying because that really means you were struggling a lot. When you’re forced to rest, the house becomes messy, the meals become stressful, the little kids start to push the limits, and the “crafts” that the older ones occupy themselves with in the afternoon overflow to every last imaginable space in the house. This can make for one frustrated mommy. Prayer doesn’t feel so much like a spiritual response, but a desperate reach for the help and grace you now realize you need. I can give thanks for any circumstance that opens my eyes in this way.


Laundry. It piled up again, and sometimes didn’t get done. Last month’s victories don’t guarantee future successes.

Homeschooling. Oh dear, what a month for homeschooling. First I have to say that I am so thankful for Hope. Her sweet and patient nature are such a gift. Her cursive writing is starting to look beautiful and she is catching on well to more concepts in math. We lost several days of school through the first weeks of February, but the third week we fought through and conquered and the fourth week was back to normal with an extra day made up! That felt even better than a whole month of perfectly executed lesson plans.

We did play outside a lot in spite of the cold. I think being outside helps me as much as it does them.


This would have been a good month to fall back on those priorities and remind myself of them constantly. That didn’t happen, but hopefully it will the next time some challenging weeks roll around. (because I’m sure they will)


I’m out of breath! But just one more list to go and I can go to bed! Because I know if I don’t do this now I won’t maybe for the rest of the year.

So here we go: specific plans for March!

(wait, one more thing. I have this policy about lists; I try not to let things roll over. Of course everything doesn’t get done, but just putting it on the next list seems to mean it won’t get done. If an item is that important, it will bug me until I get it done, list or not. All that to say, there will be things missing from March’s list that I will still be working on.)

*Get chalkboard ready for the next day during the afternoon

*Read at night

*Try to go to the park every week with the girls

*Make extra effort to be early for church, just to see Paul before everything starts

*Choose to use even the five minutes it takes to check email, facebook, or the weather in the morning to pray (weather could be checked the night before) ; ) for that matter, let’s be ambitious: have clothes ready the night before

*make list of things we might need for the new baby

*Exercise three times a week

*Organize Mckayla’s room

*Make spring cleaning plan

*Fold all current laundry, then fold as it comes out of the dryer and do not do more until the previous load is folded and put away. Get.caught.up.

*Homeschooling: more science, go to church library, find a time to do piano lessons

*Make list of expectations for the girls. Include personal responsibilities, chores, manners, attitudes, and possible rewards or consequences

*Remember the priorities!

*Evaluate weekly activities; eliminate those that might bring more stress than benefit.

*Consistently work on Awana verses with the girls. Try to be ready every week!

*Possibly purchase some organizing stuff for our room/papers/stuff.

*For profitable fun, dream up an entryway project from Pinterest, craigslist, Target, etc. Include storage, place to sit, and things to make it pretty.

What a lovely way to end a list. I think I’m just trying to encourage myself for the work ahead.

And if you read this… go eat a Snickers or some other rewarding treat. I can only imagine it is as laborious to read as it is to write. This is so helpful for me, though; thanks for bearing with me. I referred to the list many times in February.

What else should I be thinking about in March?

Happy Almost Spring! (I like winter enough that I’m cool with it for another twenty days or so)

Two months down, ten to go.
Two months down, ten to go.

The Idealistic Homeschooler

Idealistic homeschooling... for two weeks
Idealistic homeschooling…. for two weeks

I have a dream. It goes something like this:

I wake up early; have some quiet time to myself; exercise; and get completely ready. At this point (hopefully @7:30) I go in and wake up my children. Did I say their clothes were already out and waiting for them? They wake up, get dressed, make their beds, and come to me so I can fix their hair. We eat breakfast and clean it up. School commences at promptly anytime earlier than what it has been. Oh wait, I’m being idealisitc; school starts at 8:45. When school is done, we make sure everything is tidy from that and then go outside to exercise and play for an hour.

In case you don’t know this about me, what I just described is nothing like how our weekdays go.

But I have this idea.

Starting Monday, we have officially two full weeks of school until Christmas break. What if I just try to live my “ideal” for two weeks? Only two weeks! Can it really be that hard? And if it is…can’t I stick it out for just two weeks?

Now, in my defense, the last three weeks have been crazy and unusual. There is no way that we could have or should have tried or expected something like this to happen due to all that was happening.

Why do I even want to try this?

I know that change is better done gradually; I know have to be realistic about my life expectations with four little kids; I know the whole thing could be a colossal failure on day 2.

But it just occurred to me that I have this two-week window coming off of a very relaxing holiday break; and it might be a fun time to try.

I’m hoping for a couple of things:

1. To realize that some ideals are maybe more livable than we think if we just give it a chance. Sometimes it’s too easy to just trudge along and never actually try for anything better.

2. To get over my fear of waking my children up earlier, thinking that they won’t get enough sleep.

3. To force myself to get up earlier for the purpose of prayer and exercise, and to therefore go to bed earlier. (because if this girl doesn’t get enough sleep, she’s not gettin’ up; AND, we’ve been starting to do a lot better at this already!)

4. To bring some more structure to our homeschool routine.

5. To make more time for extra homeschool things with Hope and other activities/learning times for the little girls.

What do you think?

I just spent almost two hours cleaning up our homeschool space, organizing, and in general trying to prepare the house for a fresh start tomorrow.

And the whole point of hitting “publish” now is to make it a point of no return.

Don’t expect updates; hopefully, I’ll be in bed.

Completely unrelated: we got our Christmas tree tonight!!!!! Mmmmm…. the smell of Christmas tree could inspire me to do just about anything.

****A slight, but important amendment! I will post about how it’s going, but just on the facebook page to be faster. If you haven’t liked the facebook page, do it here so you can keep up!

Teaching piano lessons to your own child: Bloopers!

photo credit

Well, I do believe that I will end this series for now. Maybe in a year or so, I’ll revisit the topic with some more thoughts.

Haven’t read the other posts yet? Here are the links:

The Name Game

The teachers have it better

4 practice tips for during the week

Looking like a teacher on lesson day

To close, I’d thought I’d share a few funny comments from… ahem… my student.


It’s come to my attention that Hope is not unlike other students at all; she frequently blames her mom for the fact that she hasn’t practiced.

Unfortunately for her (and me!), I am her mom.

This week it was, “Yeah, we didn’t practice that too much, because I kept asking my mom if we could do it and she kept saying, “Not right now,” but then we never did do it.


Okay, partly true, but definitely blame-shifting!


“I didn’t do my theory because my mom never remembered to help me with it.”

Have I mentioned I have four kids five and under?


“So, I didn’t practice very much this week, but it wasn’t my fault. We were really busy.”



Oh, but I take it all in stride. Mrs. _____ knows the truth. One, that Hope is a perfectly typical little girl who loves to practice, but also doesn’t always quite do it the way she should, regardless of me; two, that I’m a just a mom with all the imperfections, busyness, and priority struggles of every other mom.

All this means that our weeks of practice follow a very normal pattern for beginning piano students, and I think that’s probably a good thing.

Thank you so much for reading! If any of this has been helpful or interesting, I’d love to hear your feedback. I know there are other moms out there doing the same thing, so I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Hope you’re having a lovely week!


Teaching piano lessons to your own child: 4 practice tips for during the week

photo credit
photo credit

Well, hello again! I have been teaching my daughter Hope piano lessons for twelve weeks now. Knowing that it would be a challenge, I decided to chronicle the happenings here. It’s been great for encouragement and reflection and hopefully even helpful for you as well.

The first post in the series dealt with a little trick I call The Name Game.

Next, I shared why The teachers have it better.

Today, I’m going to share some helpful tips I’ve learned about practicing with your child during the week, as the mom and NOT the teacher.

Tip #1: Take a different posture than you do while teaching. 

If you usually stand while teaching, try during the week to sit down while they practice. If you’re the teacher who prefers to sit, trying standing while they practice.

This might seem so small, but it has made a huge difference for me.

The first few weeks of practicing with Hope during the week were really rough for me. I was trying so hard to not be “teachery,” but having trouble! I know one day I literally chewed a great big spot in my cheek. (It hurt!) Everything in me wanted to be correcting and instructing, moving her hands and straightening her back, and ugh. Something had to happen. So one day, probably the day after I chewed the inside of my cheek off, I decided to pull up an ottoman and sit down next to her instead of standing. (I always stand up when giving lessons) It was amazing how this small change gave me a totally different perspective. Instead of being a teacher, now I was just a mom. Listening, helping her know what to practice next, making sure she wasn’t dawdling in between assignments, but other than that, just being there and watching her play. Sometimes I hold a hot cup of coffee and just sit there; it’s actually kind of relaxing.

Tip #2: As a general rule, only correct what an ordinary parent would know to correct. 

Yes, while I’m watching Hope practice, there are a thousand things that I know “Mrs. _____” would say if she was listening, but during that time, I’m not her teacher, I’m her mom. Especially at this early stage, I’ll do more damage than good by using my “pianist knowledge” with her as she practices. I would much rather her come ask me for extra help, then wish that I would put a cork in it.

When she’s practicing, and I think I should remark about something she’s doing wrong, I ask myself, “Would an ordinary parent know to say that?” And if I think yes, then I go ahead and try to help. If not, then I leave it alone. After all, we wouldn’t “Mrs. _____” to not have any work to do during the lesson.

Tip #3: Focus on developing good concentration skills and work ethic.

I feel that a parent’s “supervisor” role should have as it’s focus their child’s concentration skills and work ethic. Do I want Hope to learn to play that D Major scale correctly? Yes! But I can artificially teach her how to play it perfectly. As a parent, it’s more important to me that she begin to learn good character as it regards to learning and practicing.

Here’s an example, I won’t correct every wrong note or note value that she plays; but I do work on her dawdling in between songs, playing what I call “whatever music” (just random notes on the piano).

“Hope, this is your time to practice your lesson. That is not your lesson. We only have so much time, and you need to work on only the things that are written in your assignment book. When you finish one thing, you go right to the next.”

I’m all for being creative. I regularly let Hope have time at the piano to just “play.” She likes to experiment with sounds and intervals and ups and downs and everything. That is good and that is helpful. But when it’s time to practice the lesson, she must be focused.

This might sound like a lot to ask from a five-year old, but I’m not actually expecting her to do it perfectly now (that’s why I’m here), I’m just trying to plant the seeds of how to focus on a task you’ve been given. This translates to chores, schoolwork, and even games.

The same could be said of work ethic. I have the chance to watch her and gauge her diligence and effort. Even now, I want to encourage her to give her best. It’s a huge lesson in life to learn that a major way to respond with thankfulness for opportunities is to engage yourself in them with all your heart. Thankfully, she does pretty good at this right now, because she’s still loving it.

These things, concentration and work ethic (thought I might not use those exact terms with her), are things that I will comment on as I see the need. I feel that as the parent, these are things that fall under our concern. We’re uniquely able to deal with these issues as we oversee the practice time during the week.

Tip #4: Try not to make up for your child’s memory just because you are also the teacher.

This in some ways is a sub-point under the last tip. I’ll try to make it short. = ) A teacher has to be very careful and clear about what they want during the week. The child’s responsibility is to remember. If something is extremely important and the teacher thinks the student might need help remembering, they will probably make an extra note on the assignment book so the parent will be aware of the instructions as well. This way the parent can also help the child remember.

As far as Hope and I go, if it’s not expressly written in her assignment book and she doesn’t remember what Mrs. _____ said during the lesson, I don’t remind her (even though I am technically Mrs. _____ and know what she’s supposed to do). She needs to be accountable for remembering and she needs to feel the consequences of not remembering at the lesson if she didn’t follow through.


I hope these have been helpful and thought-provoking. As I already said, it’s been good for me to think through the different challenges of teaching your own child; and it’s been fun to figure out solutions to those challenges.

I can only imagine what we’ll learn together in the future! = )

(Next time we’ll talk about preparing yourself and your house to be “teacher-like” on lesson day)

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.