The first week of January was good. Every year we have a New Year's party, so this year was no different. As we get older, the party ends a little earlier, but we still had a wonderful time with our friends! I also began my fast from Facebook. I mentioned in this post that part of the reason that I quit was so that I could devote more time to focusing on family. To be honest with you, Facebook was becoming an idol to me. I was spending so much time on it and it was constantly in my thought process - for example, whenever someone took a picture of me, I would make sure the photo was Facebook-worthy. I spent time on it when I should have been doing other things.
We also started making some changes around the house. I've started washing one load of laundry every day, which has been helped me to be more productive. I'll put away one load at a time. If I try to do more, the clean clothes will sit in a hamper for a week before I put them away. I try to get the kitchen cleaned each night before bed so that I don't have a mess to wake up to. I do dishes throughout the day, and clean/pick up things throughout the day. Otherwise, I won't have energy to do it all at the end of the day. And, I take Sundays off. Sunday is family and church time. Not cleaning, running around time.
Our children went to a fun kids event without us (they were with an adult family member). It was really scary for me because I am always concerned that something will happen to them when I'm not there. But, it ended up being great. Ben and I got to go out to breakfast together and then go to the mall for the afternoon. I can't remember the last time we (just the two of us) went out for breakfast, it was definitely needed.
X-Man had a family birthday party which was very nice. He also had a friend (as in, HIS (under 18) friends) party. We had it at our community center, and the kids got to run around, play games, and burn energy! It was on a super-snowy day - church was actually cancelled that day, so we didn't get everyone we had expected, but it was still a lot of fun.
We've started reading a chapter (or two) of a novel to each child every night. I was rushing their bedtime routine, then Little Lou would come out of her room every night asking to be snuggled. Then, as soon as she asked for snuggles, X-Man came out for snuggles. It ended up being stressful and taking way longer that it should have - so Ben and I weren't able to spend much uninterrupted time together. So, we each take a child to bed. Then, Ben or I read one or two chapter of their book to each child in their bed. It gives us snuggle time, and gets them sleepy so they fall asleep quicker. X-Man and I just finished a Magic Treehouse book, and Little Lou is working on Charlotte's Web. X-Man is into History, so the Magic Treehouse books are perfect for him (Little Lou probably wouldn't pay attention to these books at this time), and Little Lou loves animals, so Charlotte's Web has been great for her - X-Man doesn't seem to like books that are obviously fictional (talking animals and whatnot, whereas Little Lou does).
For school, we changed our planning as well. As I mentioned in this post, I was spending each night prepping for the following days lessons. We changed that too. Now, on Saturday, I write our entire weekly schedule on a white board. We erase each thing as they are completed. This past week it worked really well for us. We began reading A Grain of Rice, and on Tuesday (the second day), the kids were HOOKED. They wanted for us to keep reading, we read the entire book in two days instead of four. I just erased the assignment from Wednesday and Thursday and added new books. Also, if we fall behind, we can leave uncompleted assignments on the board for us to finish later in the week. For example, for the first time ever, X-Man is struggling with his math work. He wants to rush so he forgets to regroup. He already completed his lessons in the Math-U-See book, so I've been creating new worksheets for him. One thing that has helped is making his math problems multiple choice answers. That way, if he doesn't get one of the answers I have listed, he HAS to go back and figure out where he went wrong.
I also made my first sensory bin for the kids. It's Valentine's themed and Little Lou is LOVING it. She's been playing with it all morning. There's shreds of paper; foil; felt hearts; red, pink, and white pom-poms; cups; spoons; tongs; heart cookie cutters; small red and silver presents; and pink, white, and red foam squares, beads, and gems. It's messy and fun, and since everything goes right back into the box, it's easy to clean up.
All in all, it was a great month. The weather wasn't always cooperative, we had gym class cancelled because of snow, and have had a few days with sub-zero highs. But at least the snow is pretty, and we can stay inside if we want.
Now, onto February and the countdown to Valentine's Day.