Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Little Flowers, Wreath I, Love of God

In the Fall of 2010 - and I hesitate to even admit this! - a friend and I decided to create a Little Flowers club for our girls.  We had two meetings from the first Wreath, then went into a very long hibernation.  I was pregnant and constantly tired, they were busy, and it just didn't get on the calendar.  The girls were understanding but disappointed, and we decided to give it another try.  We started where we left off and met for our third meeting in January 2012.  This was a year late, but better late than never, right?

Our Talk

I briefly told the story of St. Agnes and invited the girls to do a picture study of The Miracle of St. Agnes.  From there I talked about Constantine's daughter who built a church in St. Agnes' honor, and showed pictures of the Basilica that replaced the original in the 600's.  I also showed a picture of the tomb of St. Agnes. We discussed the lambs that are blessed each year at this church and I showed pictures of this as well.  I had preloaded my iPad with all these images, and this was so helpful and engaging for the girls.

I used the theological virtues flower from Joy Filled Family to begin our discussion of the virtue of Love of God.  We talked about how St. Agnes exhibited this virtue and about how we can show our love for God too.  We briefly talked about the peony flower (again with pictures from my iPad, as none of the girls were familiar with this flower) and mentioned how big it is and how this relates to how much God loves us and how much we should love Him.

Our Crafts and Snack

I had used the notebooking page idea from Shower of Roses in our previous meetings, so I continued it for this one too.  For the notebooking page template I added a few quotes from my quotes from Saints file and gave the girls this template of a peony to cut out of construction paper (instead of felt, as the project was done originally).  The flowers looked lovely in construction paper too.  I was also inspired by the stained glass window of St. Agnes on the Joy Filled Family blog to create my own coloring page.  I've never done such a thing, but I think it turned out pretty well.  The younger kids enjoyed coloring it, and a smaller version of it was a nice addition to the older girls' notebooking page.

 For our snack and craft, I bought whole wheat dough and suggested the children make lambs, as St. Agnes is generally pictured with a lamb.  In Lithuania there is a custom that links St. Agnes with bread rolls, so there's another reason it is appropriate.  They made their lambs in a variety of different ways, and had so much fun handling the dough!  I had the older girls make their lambs first then as they moved onto their notebooking page, their siblings shaped their dough.  I baked the lambs while everyone colored, then the children quickly devoured their lamb rolls fresh from the oven.

It was a great meeting, and I'm glad we're doing it again!

My St. Agnes Coloring Page

Keeping House: Our Chore System

Now that we've gotten a good start on the new year and I'm at least a little used to being a mom of four, I thought I would spend some time on this neglected blog.  Jen at Wildflowers and Marbles recently posted a nice write-up about chore charts and systems, and since one of my first tasks of the new year was to revisit our chore system, I thought this would make for a nice topic.

In trying to design a chore system that worked for my family, I wanted something simple, flexible, and easy to customize for that particular day, while still ensuring that the necessary weekly and monthly chores were completed often enough to keep the house looking decent.  I've worked on this system for my family for at least five years now, updating and refining it once or twice a year.  I'm pretty happy with how it is working, although I'm still fine-tuning the individual lists of what needs to get done.

Our chore chart resides in my homemaking binder on top of a bookshelf near our kitchen area.  Above the bookshelf are two 12" square picture frames with scrapbooking paper in them.  The top one is for the week's menu, and the bottom one is for the day's chores.  I have labels written with a wet erase pen, and I write the chores and menu with a dry erase pen.  In my binder I have a master list of what needs to be done by which person on which day.  Each morning (hopefully, but sometimes not until just after lunch!) I write in the day's chores.  We all do chores together for about 45 minutes after lunch.  There's also time spent here and there picking up, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cat, and doing other little things needed to keep the house in reasonable order, but this 45 minute period is where the bulk of the routine home maintenance happens.

Our chart consists of two pages - one that shows each day of the week and each person's chores for that day and the other that shows a list of monthly chores.  On certain days there is a spot for a monthly chore, and then I'll pick one from the monthly list, cross it off, and write it up on the picture frame.  Each month I'll print out a new copy of the monthly list.  This way those chores that don't need to get done every week aren't neglected and I have an easy system to make sure they get completed.

I like this system because it easy for me to assign an extra chore or skip something I have written in the binder without confusing the children or giving any cause for complaining.  (Not that my children would ever do that  *ahem*)  But it also makes it easy for me to make sure things get done regularly and that everyone has work to do during this time.  The writing is a little bit of extra work, but it really only takes me about 2-3 minutes and the flexibility is worth it for me.  And it is very easy to see if everyone is done, because after work is completed and inspected, it is wiped off the picture frame.

If anyone is curious, I've added our current lists below (click on the image for a larger version).  These change pretty frequently (every 2-3 months, probably) as children get older and more skilled at various tasks.  I also like to rotate what they do so they get experience with a variety of jobs.  I should also note that everything in Nathan's column is really done by Nathan and me - I have not subbed out all the mopping to the three year old!