Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Brayden Preteen Summary: 10.25 Years Old

This is a summary for Brayden from age 10 to age 10 and a quarter (the first three months of 10).

EATING
Eating continues on as usual. He loves to eat. He is not picky. 

School was just starting at the end of this period. Brayden told me he wants to eat school lunch basically every single day. This is an interesting thing. I have noticed over the years that fifth graders (which is the grade he is in) eat school lunch almost exclusively. Conversely, first graders seem to primarily eat home lunch. 

SLEEPING
Sleeping was great! I think for the first time ever, Brayden did not have a get out of bed streak during the period I am talking about! Yay! I won't say those days are behind us, but he really is working hard to learn to manage his worries and not need to get out of bed. He typically gets anxious if one of us is gone when he goes to bed. He won't sleep until he knows we are both home. However, he handled a couple of nights of me going to girls night during this period and, most impressively, a couple of nights of my husband being out of state for a business meeting. 

SUMMER
Brayden had a nice summer. He is on the swim team and swim team is year round, so he had that throughout the summer. He is getting better with his swimming and qualifying for BC meets. He is hoping to get a state time this short course season coming up. He did three golf camps throughout the summer and he loved those. He really enjoys golfing and is quite good at them. He also played baseball and made big improvements there. He is in the kid pitch age group. Last year was his first year in kid and it really made him nervous to have kids pitching to him. He had a hard time staying in the batter's box. And let's be honest, some of those kids can really throw very hard but at least one hits a kid every game. 

This year, he not only stayed in the box but he hit almost every time he was up to bat. This was a huge improvement!



SCHOOL YEAR PLANNING
Last year, I really came to know and understand better the fact that Brayden does not like to be too busy. Because of this, I have had him have a very active role in planning his activities for the upcoming school year. We have talked about potential activities and what the time commitment would be. I then told him to think about each and pray about each so he would know which activities he should do and which he shouldn't.

As he has done this, he has had the surprising answer that he feels like he should not do orchestra this year. He is surprised by it because orchestra is before school and he is an early riser. He also loved being a part of orchestra last year. He loves music and loves playing instruments. There are only two concerts a year. So it isn't a huge commitment. Never-the-less, he feels like he should not do it. I counseled him to trust the Lord and if he feels like he is being told not to do it, he would be wise to not do it. 

The whole process has been a very good learning experience for him. I think it is a great age for him to do this. I hope he will learn to rely on the Lord for guidance on things like this throughout his life and he is definitely old enough to start learning about the process.


BOOKS
Here are some books he loves (you can see more and keep up on books he reads and loves on my Chapter Books for Boys  board. I also have one for girls):

  • Spirit Animals by Brandon Mull. The first book is by Mull, but each book in the series is by a different author. Brayden said that is a hard thing about this series--that the authors change. This is his second time reading the series. He likes it better now as a fifth grader than he did as a third grader. 
  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. Brayden is getting more open to multiple genres beyond the fantasy books. I suggested he read this. He really enjoyed it. The content is mature so I wouldn't really recommend it younger than 10. A mature 9 year old could probably handle it. 
  • Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. After he had read The Wednesday Wars, I told him he needed to read Okay for Now. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is so great for learning that you need to be patient with people and that there are reasons people are the way they are and to love them anyway. Same recommendation on the ages for this book as The Wednesday Wars
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. This is his favorite series right now.
  • Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms) by Brandon Mull. This is a close second for him. Side note, Brandon Mull came to our school a couple of years ago, and that visit really impacted the interest Brayden has in his books. If your school has the opportunity to have an author come visit, I highly recommend pursuing it!
SCHEDULE
Brayden's Schedule. Something to notice with older kids, as they get older, you allow them to have more of a say over how their time is spent. This was his summer schedule:

7:30 AM--wake up. Get ready for swim team. Leave for swim team practice.
9:10 AM--get home. Eat breakfast. Get ready.
Practice piano. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. Free Play.
Noon--Eat lunch. Then do some math facts practice (multiplication or division).
1:00 PM--Free play.
5:00 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:30 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:30-9:00 PM--in bed

We didn't necessarily have free play going on at all times, but I did let him decide what point in the day he wanted to do independent playtime or reading.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Getting Stuff Done--Stop Fighting Yourself!


When it comes to being productive, there are many, many little things you can do to help yourself be as productive as you can be. Get enough rest. Eat well. Drink enough water. Exercise so you have energy. Make a list. Have a plan. Prioritize. Focus on one thing at a time. There is much more to be added.

There is something I don't think is often included in advice and yet is crucial. If you want to be productive, you have to stop fighting yourself to get things done.

The next time you are doing something you dread, just take note of yourself. Are you holding back and moving slower? Are you in your head thinking about how you can't wait until this dreaded toilet cleaning is done so you can move on to something more enjoyable? Are you fighting yourself internally and externally to move forward? Part of yourself is telling you to do it while part just wants to walk away?

If you want to get more done and be more productive, you have to stop fighting yourself. You have to push that part of you that is holding you back out of the way and just move forward with your full momentum. 

I know that can be easier said than done--trust me, I fight myself frequently. But when you do manage to push that part of you that is holding you back to the side and just move forward with your full energy, you get so much more done. So it just makes more sense to just get out of your own way and do it. The more you fight, the slower you will be, and the longer the dreaded stuff will take. 

You know when your kids are dreading doing a task and you say, "Let's see how fast you can get that done! I will time you!" or "Let's see if you can get your shoes on before I count to twenty!" (if you don't do things like that, try it. It works). You can do the same for yourself. When you buckle down and put your full effort in and go as fast as you can, the dreaded thing can be done and over with rather quickly. 

So move on over, let yourself just do it and get things done. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Kitchen Favorite New Finds

I love trying things out for my kitchen. I am not quite to the point of having a special tool for every single vegetable I might ever want to do something with in my kitchen, but I still love my kitchen products. Most of these products are pretty cheap even, so I can't recommend them enough!

Blendtec Blender

This is not an inexpensive item by any stretch of the imagination, but it is so very worth it. We have always had a cheap $10 blender our whole lives, but a couple of years ago we decided we wanted a real blender. You know I did my research. I asked around and got so many opinions my head was spinning. In the end, I was deciding between a Ninja, Blendtec, and a Vitamix. I have friends who own all of those, so I borrowed them all to see what I liked and didn't like about each one.

The Ninja quite honestly just didn't compare at all to the other two. That was quickly off the table. It was nicer than my cheapo blender, but it did not compete with the other two. 

The Vitamix vs. Blendtec question is a complex one and one I see quite often on social media among my friends. There are YouTube videos comparing the two. In the end I decided that it seemed people who owned a Vitamix loved the Vitamix and people who owned a Blendtec loved the Blendtec. In other words, you can't go wrong with either one.

What sold me on the Blendtec is the presets. If I want to make a smoothie, I hit "smoothie" and the machine changes the speed and goes the amount of time needed for a smoothie. I would most definitely stop it before it was the right time to stop. So the Blendtec works well for me.

Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper


We bought this just a couple of months ago. We didn't like the one we had (a Stir Crazy--which most people who have really love it. I think we just got a lemon). I had my eye on this Stovetop one for years. It isn't even that expensive, but sometimes I take a lot of years to make simple decisions. The poplite was close to half the price of the stovetop and it rated so well that I finally took the plunge and tried it out (I know, I can be a bit, um, dramatic when it comes to buying things). We have loved this. Seriously it is fantastic. Cheap. Popcorn done in two minutes. It pops almost ever kernel. I really couldn't ask for more. 

Silicone Oven Mitts Heat Resistant Pot Holders Soft Quilted Liner

Last late April, I was thinking up ideas for a Mother's Day gift for my mom and my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law had been talking about how she always burns her arm getting stuff from the oven because she just uses the square hotpads to get things out. But even though I buy my pot holders from our local kitchen store that is quite a spendy place, my pot holders just let the heat creep through to my fingers. No good. So I decided to look into silicone. I found these. I decided to get some for my mom, and hey, why not me while I was at it. I LOVE them! They are silcone but they are quilted inside. They don't let heat touch my little fingers. They also wipe off easily, so no more stained pot holders. They are also the same price I have been spending on ones that don't work well. So all around, a win.

If you use fresh herbs, this is ten dollars worth spent. These scissors make it much faster to chop those herbs up into your recipe. These particular herb scissors are great because of the cover that goes over the blades. The cover doubles as a tool to help get the herbs that inevitably get stuck in the scissors out of the scissors and into your recipe. 



This is another item that is not cheap, but worth it. I spent over a year analyzing different stock pots and pondering which one to get. I know, I know, I can tend to overthink things. But I like to make smart purchases because I don't want to waste my money or waste space in my kitchen. I also do not get rid of things unless they have been run into the ground, so I need to love it. This is the stock pot I went with in the end and I love it! They have different sizes of the same brand. I used this for many things, including canning and preserving food. For me, that is the most impressive use because you are cooking for so long at a time when doing that. It is a fantastic pot.

This is a  handy tool if you either make your own yogurt or cook meat (especially pork). I am sure there are other handy uses I don't know about. I mostly use this for yogurt, but it has come in very handy when baking pork. For some reason, I have several recipes that say the pork loin will cook WAY faster than it actually does. We would be eating some questionable meat if not for this. 

Microplane Classic Zester/Grater
If you zest, this is a fantastic zester. If you don't zest, you really should. Recipes with zest are amazing. 

RSVP Shuck Deluxe Corn Stripper

This is really only handy if you need to strip a lot of corn cobs. We bought this last year because we were canning corn last year. It was a LIFE SAVER! It is, however, a little hard to use. My husband did it all and thinks it would potentially be to hard for me to use--at least with certain cobs. 

They do make other corn strippers that would be more handy for stripping just a couple of cobs. You might find yourself doing this for a younger toddler or for a young child with loose front teeth. But knives also work for stripping corn so I am not sure I would buy a little corn stripper. 

Anti Fatigue Mat by Sky Mats
This is another thing I thought about buying for years before I finally did. We love it! This really makes a difference. If you spend a lot of time standing in the kitchen on hard floors and you are over the age of 30, this will be beneficial to you. Something I like about this particular one is that it is very easy to clean. I saw some with designs that looked like it might be hard to clean it easily. We put this in front of our sink, so it is a really messy spot. It just wipes easily with a wash cloth.

Okay out with it! I want to know what some of your favorite kitchen products are. What gadgets do you have that are worth it?

See also: Efficient Mommy: Kitchen Products






Thursday, August 27, 2015

Storing Water for Emergencies

Getting prepared for an emergency can be daunting. It isn't quick and it isn't cheap. When you consider the likelihood of needing to use these things you store, it can be hard to dredge up the motivation to actually do it. The fact is, however, that you can't prepare after the emergency and emergencies just don't give you fair warning. You need to prepare.

When starting your emergency preparedness, it is wise to start with water. Storing water can be pretty inexpensive. It also is very necessary. You can only survive 3 days without water. As a parent, you aren't going to be able to curl up in a ball and wait it out and hope water comes soon. You will need water so you can take care of your kids. 

You children also need water. Have  you ever been trapped in your vehicle with thirsty children and no water? They really seem to think they are going to die needing to wait another ten minutes until you get home and can give them water. Thirsty children are not fun. You don't want to be stuck without water.

Storing at Home
It is a great idea to have water on hand at home for emergency use. Unfortunately, the need for this seems to come up more often than just a natural disaster. The water can be shut off to your neighborhood for various reasons, from an accident to maintenance. You can also get into a situation where your city's water is contaminated. This leads to not being able to use your water for typically 1-3 days (sometimes more).

So I suggest you store water at home. 
  • You can keep store-bought bottled water in your storage. 
  • You can keep some water in your refridgerator. This obviously would not help you out long term, but if your water-main was shut off for a few hours, it could get you through that.
  • You can store water in containers. We have a 55 gallon drum of water in our storage room (pictured below). You can buy ccontainers made for water storage (pictured below). You can also simply save old 2 liter bottles and store water in those.
  • You can store a water filter. We own a LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Purifier. This is pictured above. It "Purifies 18,000 liters/4755 gallons WITHOUT iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals; Clean drinking water for a family of four for 3 years". You can find water from the rain, in rivers, in ponds, from streams, melted snow...this will enable us to purify water if we need to. 
I won't reinvent the wheel and explain how to purify water here. I am not an expert like people who have created documentation for purifying water. To learn how to do this safely, check out these links:
Store for 72 Hour Kit
In reality, storing water at home is the easy part. Having enough water for your use at home just takes a bit of forethought, planning, and work. It isn't too difficult. Trying to figure out water for a portable 72 hour kit is the real trick.

You need one gallon of water per person per day. That means for a 72 hour kit, three days, you need three gallons of water per person. Can you imagine stuffing three gallons of water into your 72 hour kit and then carrying that around on your back? I try to make our 72 hour kits so we can each individually carry them in case our transportation is our feet. Three gallons of water is heavy. Here are our solutions.


  • We started with water pouches. We put one gallon in each person's pack. One gallon was enough to make it seem heavy--especially considering that water isn't the only think you are packing in your 72 hour kit. I want us to start off with guaranteed water. I figure the first day of needing to use a 72 hour kit could potentially be the most stressful and this way we won't be desperate for water immediately.
  • I did some digging and came across the LifeStraw. This is how I found the family filter I talked about above. They also have Personal Water Filters. This was a Time Magazine invention of the year winner. You can use this straw, stick it directly into dirty water, and drink through the straw. It is extremely light (less than one pound). Each straw filters 1000 liters. I put this and an old water bottle in each person's pack. This way we can fill up a bottle for the kids to drink from so they don't have to lean over the river or pond to drink. I think that would help mentally. Also, we could take water with us if we were moving away from the water source.
  • LifeStraw has since come out with a water bottle/lifestraw combination. It looks fantastic. I want to put some in our vehicle for emergency water for our car kits. LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1000-Liter LifeStraw Filter

Related Posts:
Be sure to check out these posts of mine on emergency preparedness:

You can also follow our BFBN Emergency Preparedness board and our Safety board for more tips. You can also see my Emergency Preparedness board for tips.







Today the ladies of the BFBN are all sharing safety tips. We have everything from carseats to babyproofing. Be sure to check them out!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2 Year Old Index

These are posts that I feel are most pertinent to issues you encounter with two year olds. 

Discipline (see also Discipline Index)
Gear and Toys
Goals
Independent Playtime
Learning Time
Mealtime
Playtime (see also "Independent Play" above)
Potty Training
Schedules
Sickness
Sleep
Thumb/Finger Sucking
Toddler Summary for McKenna

Toddler Summary for Brinley

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