House For Six

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How To Transition To A New Schedule. And Stay Alive.

Deme Crinion4 Comments
Hey friends!  Let's talk about September for a quick sec....

WTF?!?! It's such an odd month.  

We just had a week of crazy high temps - the warmest all summer - and while my brain wants to be thinking about pumpkin spice latte's (they're here!!) it just can't seem to get past the hot, wet blanket of humidity outside.


September, you are such a tease. You taunt me with one week of glorious fall weather, in which I begin to pull out my boots and favorite sweaters....and then you swiftly crush my autumn dreams, snatching back those crisp mornings as you deliver another two weeks of frizz inducing misery. 

It happens every year, so let's just call it like it is.  You're summer.  My brain will always want you to be fall, but you're not.  You're the transition month and I'm trying not to hate you.  Especially with my favorite month-child October right on your heels. 

You steal my joy with your wackadoodle weather and you push my every limit by requiring early wake-ups for school and some sort of organization lest I drown in paper correspondence and laundry.  I don't always want to simply survive you, September, but I think you can see the struggle.  


OK.  I feel better.  Is September messing with anyone else out there?  

It's rough enough transitioning from lazy summer days to having to be out the door at a certain time (even though we all crave the return of a structured routine).  But throw in the tease of fall weather in between mostly blazing days and I feel like I'm merely trying to avoid the fetal position.

We're three weeks into school and clearly we haven't yet hit our groove.  I'm certain our 5 year old was attempting some America Ninja Warrior move when he fell off the monkey bars at recess, breaking both bones in his wrist just one week into school.  So, maybe we'll take a pass for needing a bit longer of an adjustment period.


The biggest struggle I have (aside from my toddleresque attitude toward the weather), is that fall brings a certain boost of energy with it.  I've always preferred the cooler months and when school hits, an organizational kick tends to come with it.

But of course I don't tackle this in any sort of reasonable way.  It's like a new years resolution on steroids.  With the start of school I determine that I will.....

-get up early before the kids and have quiet time before they wake up
-prepare all the things the night before
-work out 5 days a week
-meal plan and reign in our grocery budget
-get into a regular cleaning routine
-assign a time for work/blog related tasks
-assign a time for personal stuff like responding to emails, reading, etc.
-keep in better touch with friends
-ORGANIZE MY LIFE

All good things, all good things, right?  But slightly intense when you haven't been doing any of them consistently for awhile.  

I've tried many ways of doing this in the past, from scheduling our day down to the minute (too much rigidness, much stress), to allowing the day to flow naturally from one thing to the next (not enough structure, mucho chaos).

I will often draw up a schedule I think will work, only to find myself overwhelmed and defeated.  I tend to fall into two traps and this year I'm making a conscious effort to address those problems.

Problem #1: Creating a schedule that looks good on paper, but doesn't play well to our strengths or natural tendencies/preferences.

Any time you make a change to your routine or create new habits, it takes time.  There's a transition period in which your body is fighting and shouting profanities as you roll out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 6 am.  This is the normal discomfort of developing a new habit.  But there is also the pain that comes from working against your natural rhythms/makeup.

Case in point - I am not a morning person and never will be. The difficulty is not just in waking at an early hour, it simply takes me a long time to actually wake up.  No matter the time I get out of bed, it always takes a good 30 min of being up and about until I'm awake enough to have my head in the game.  But my life simply doesn't allow me to sleep in as late as I would like.  I have no choice but to change this part of my day.  However, since I know I'm not a morning person, I've learned that I can make things easier or harder on myself by what I schedule for the morning.

If I leave showering, getting dressed, making lunches, checking backpacks, and finding everyone clean socks until the morning, well...just say a prayer for my poor children. We won't be off to a good start.

Instead: Create a daily routine that meets the requirements of our weekly obligations, in a way that doesn't make us crazy. 

Some things are non-negotiable (work/school times, lessons/extra curriculars, naps).  I write those in first and then look at my flexible items. Where would they best fit in the schedule? If I'm not sure, I start paying attention to how I feel after certain activities.

A lot of parents take their kids to school wearing their workout clothes and head straight to the gym after school drop off.  I thought this would work great on the days that Jack goes to preschool and I get a little break to myself during Liv's morning nap.  I could drop him off, come back, put the baby down for a nap, and squeeze in a workout.

But I don't really have time to workout and take a shower.  Which means I end up staying in workout clothes and then try to squeeze in a shower at some point during the day....and then try to find time to dry my hair....and then another few minutes to maybe put on some make up.  And then I feel as thought I've basically spent the whole day just trying to get dressed.

This may be just fine for some people, but I'm not in a great mindset when I go through the day this way.  I've learned that I feel so much better and somewhat accomplished when I get up and get dressed. It's really hard for me to get going in the mornings, so getting dressed forces me to wake up just a little bit more and be ready for whatever the day requires.


Problem #2:  LET'S DO IT!  The overzealous, cold turkey approach.

This will certainly work for many, but I've come to accept that I do not experience much success with this method.  I'm a perfectionist and put a lot of pressure on myself.  When I feel like I'm not measuring up or not succeeding, I tend to curl up in a hole incapable of doing anything. #ohthedrama

I end up doing a whole lot of thinking about what I want to be doing, and not a whole lot of actual doing.

Instead: Focus on one change to the routine each week. 

Now obviously, I have to go through an entire day, but where in the past I would have jumped into a totally new routine trying to fit in ALL the new things, this time I'm refining one thing at a time. #avoidscheduleschock

By default, week one was all about waking up early.  How long does it take to form a new habit?  2 weeks? Who knows.  After 3 weeks it still hurts to wake up early, but I'm actually getting out of bed after only one snooze on most days.  Occasionally, my morning person of a better half has to get me out of bed, but the 6 am alarm is not as much of a shock as it was a couple weeks ago.

Last week I played around with how to fit in that elusive work out.  While my day is a thousand times better when I start by getting dressed and ready, I also feel much better when I exercise a few days a week.  I have some back issues and am really feeling the strain from my awesome postpartum abs (read: zero core strength).

I played around with how many times a week, what time of day, etc.  I still haven't totally cracked this nut, but so far, the best compromise seems to be a workout later in the day and a shower at night.  That evening shower also helps me decompress from the day and is one less thing I have to do in the morning.

This week I'm going to work on meal planning (like maybe actually having some sort of a plan) and a better blogging/writing routine.  I have a hard time working in small chunks, especially when it comes to writing.  Which is sort of unavoidable at this point in my life, but I'm going to try doing the bulk of my post writing on the weekends.  That would leave other blogging tasks that can be tackled in small doses (photo editing, projects, social media, etc) for the weekdays. Has anyone else has success with this?


We're also taking this approach with the kids.  Because the only bigger non-morning person than the mama around here, is a blond haired third grader.  Those first weeks we worked on getting the kids to bed at a decent time, setting out clothes the night before, and adjusting to the new wake-up time.

Then we played around with the best time/place for homework, and not leaving a trail of shoes, backpacks, and lunchboxes in the middle of the floor.  Seriously.  This one might break me....the irony of the empty hooks and shoe cabinet surrounding the littered floor.  Oy.

But we'll get there!  A little bit at a time. We're never going to stick to a schedule perfectly and life is such that we constantly need to adjust. But having a good daily rhythm can allow space for all those things we have to do and most of the things we want to do.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by new routines and busier days, maybe choosing just one thing to focus on for a few days will help you feel a little less overrun. I give you permission to let the rest go for a bit.

Has anyone else been feeling this overwhelm?  Is the weather making anyone else crazy? What's the biggest adjustment for you during fall?



Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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The Land of Limbo

Deme Crinion3 Comments
I do not think there's a state in life I loath more than limbo.  Waiting.  Not knowing.  Feeling helpless.  Unsettled.  Ugh.  Just, ugh.

You know it's bad when you're putting dinner in the crockpot and almost make a run for the closet with the open bottle of wine instead of pouring it on that meat.  Pregnancy saved the day this time.

We mulled and mulled over the decision to homeschool.  Then mulled and mulled some more over what curriculum to choose.  In the end, I was too intimidated and overwhelmed to plow through the mountain of options and piece together our own thing.

So, we bought a fancy all-inclusive curriculum that's probably the bees knees for another family, but it so wasn't working for ours.  I could see that the approach and their layout just wasn't clicking with the kids.  Or with me.

Granted, I have absolutely zero authority on this subject since we've been doing it for all of one week, but I think it's muy importante to look for something that mom/dad/teacher can be excited about too.  I may not learn in the exact same way my kids do, but it's just like anything else....work, meal planning, exercise.....there's a bunch of different ways to tackle those beasts, but if you're pushing through with a method that's not clicking, then that train is going downhill fast.  In this case, I set the tone for our home classroom.  So, I need to be excited and motivated about what we're doing if success is going to be anywhere in our future.
(They all love the Word Ladder)

I'm just going to look at this curriculum overhaul as a fresh start.  Hopefully, plan out our weeks a little better (particularly for the little guys).  And hopefully, have some fun.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning.  I just couldn't beat my head against the wall with it another day.  We've still been doing our morning circle time, journal prompts, and a few workbooks/manipulatives I picked up for the kids over the summer. 
(I told Sully he could build any pattern of his choice. Uuuhhh, OK.)

But I packed up all three boxes of curriculum and sent it back.  Fortunately, this company offers a full refund without any hassles.

To be fair, it's a wonderful, high quality curriculum if you like a literature based approach to learning.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting that option and will break down all the details on the old vs. new once we have our new stuff in place.  Which should be arriving in pieces from Amazon, EBay, and various other companies throughout this week.

Until then, it's limbo.  Which is better than sticking with something you hate just because you're too stubborn to admit you made the wrong choice.  Because really.  School should rock...



Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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First Day Of School!

Deme Crinion8 Comments
It's our first day of school!!  And our first ever day of homeschooling - ACK!  This is the first year that I've had the back to school nerves in a loooong time.  I'm giving myself a break by keeping this first day fun and more of an intro to our curriculum, school setup, and new routine.  And hopefully, we manage to make some fun new "first day of school" traditions that will stay with us no matter our method of schooling down the road.

I'll do a full post on our first day traditions and our homeschool set up later this week, but for now, here's a few pics I snapped from this morning....



 I attempted to get some pics of normal/posed/smiling children but there were none to be found.  





This was the closest I got.  Maybe I'll try again later in the week....

They really are so excited to start!  So, you know...no pressure or anything.  Wish us luck!  I hope any of you heading back to school today have an amazing start to the new school year!


Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Impulse Paint Job For The Family Room

Deme Crinion17 Comments
The family room?!  What about Mia's room?  Or your office?  Or the fifty other projects you've started and have yet to finish???

I. know. 

The family room wasn't even near my radar until two things happened.  I looked at the calendar and realized....

1.  School starts in TWO WEEKS.  #commencefreakout

2. We're going to be homeschooling this year, which means I need a space dedicated to school...in TWO WEEKS.

Was an entire room makeover necessary to accomplish that?  Probably nto.  But we had already purchased the paint and other supplies we had planned to eventually use for a room makeover, so we decided to go for it.

The kids were really excited to help create their own space for learning and I was excited to get us off to a fresh start with a room that we could all enjoy.....namely, that didn't burn my eyeballs. (This particular hue of green has much more of a puke vibe in person).

A few months ago we brought home two gallons of "Voyage" by Valspar, a mid tone blue-grey.  The kids wanted blue, I wanted something more muted and blue/green, James just wanted "a color"....as in not a non-color "Is it blue? Is it green?  Is it grey?"....which for me is the perfect neutral.  But alas, I am not the only one living here so I thought a subtle blue with a grey undertone would keep everyone happy. Incorrect.

We normally don't paint in such a sporadic pattern, but we actually let the kids help. For like two minutes.
As it dried the kids didn't really love it and I could tell James wasn't crazy about it either. Then I pulled the curtain fabric and started to panic.  I found the fabric for the room (inspiring the color palette) after I bought the paint.  Mistake numero uno.  Never buy paint first without a plan.

The blue-grey was nice, but when I put the fabric against it, something felt off.  In person it felt dark and really the opposite of light/bright/playful.  So, I blasted this pic out on Instagram and Facebook begging for your opinions/help, and you did not disappoint!

I had mentioned possibly going with a color a few shades lighter that the background of the fabric, or with a lighter teal blue.  Most of you were fans of a soft teal or even an orange or yellow.  And many of you really liked our original blue-grey paint choice!  While I liked the paint color too, we really wanted something more fun for this kid-friendly space.  The bambinos weighed in too and we finally landed on a lighter version of the teal blue accent in the fabric.

High Noon (Valspar) was our winner!  It's somewhere between an aqua and a robbins egg blue. After I had the paint desk mix her up I started doubting myself again.  Was it too light?  Too bright?  Oh Lord, help me... 

I told myself not to make any judgements until the room was completely painted.  The new color is wet in this iphone pic below but you can see all three colors here.
I also have to say that we went with Valspar's premium paint with a built-in primer and low VOC.  This entire room took just under 1 gallon.  That's only one coat of paint with minor touch ups.  SO happy with that!

Now for some pics.  I apologize that some of these are a little grainy.  Here's the room on our move-in day...
 

And this morning....
All that mess is the contents of two EXPEDIT bookcases that are getting reorganized, and everything else we pulled off/away from the wall to paint.


Moving day...
 

And now.  This corner is going to be our school zone.  That green half wall is going to get a coat of chalkboard paint tonight. 


Then...

Now.  And the green below the bar is going to either get some bead board or trimmed out in some fashion.



It is definitely not what I would have originally chosen for the room, but I love how fresh it feels.  It's growing on me by the minute.  The kids LOVE it and James is happy too.  I don't think I've ever done a "real color" besides a neutral for an entire room besides a kids' room before.  And while this is a spot for our kids, the kitchen makes this space the hub of our home.  I'm thrilled that we ALL like the direction it's headed.

  And that fabric is looking much more cheerful.

The fireplace is next on my radar, and then we're going to focus on that school zone.  We're still not sure if homeschooling will be a long term change for our family or simply just a path for this next year.  So, I'm not going to go for a full classroom set up.  Especially, not before I see how we really use the space.  I've heard many a tale of mama's setting up drool worthy desk spaces only to have her kids work at the kitchen table or even on the floor.  

But we will be spending a lot of time in here and it's important that I enjoy being in here just as much as the kids.  I think we're well on our way to fun, family-friendly room. 

The kitchen is going to make this great room another multi-phase project (like our last kitchen).  So, here's how the to-do list is shaping up:

Phase 1 (before school starts)
Paint walls
Whitewash fireplace
Add bead board to the bar area
Window treatments
Paint chalkboard wall
Organize school supplies
Create a display area for kids art/projects
Paint the built-in desk

Phase 2 (next year)
Paint kitchen cabinets
Update countertops
Update desk top 
Update lighting
Seating area and rug by fireplace

Phase 3 (in my dreams)
Take out some upper kitchen cabinets
Remove huge range hood & relocate stove
Extend same flooring in adjacent living areas into this room
Rip out the large cabinet/room divider thingy


Anyone else going in a last minute organizing frenzy to get the house ready before school?


*Many of you let me know that you have not been able to leave comments on the blog recently.  I have no idea what's going on but I'm working on fixing things ASAP!  In the meantime....if you're having trouble commenting, please feel free to shoot me an email (houseforfive@gmail.com) or via the Facebook page.


Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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