Small House Living, Standardized Testing, and Belly Banishers (7QT}

Friday, May 11, 2018

 We live in a 3-bedroom house. With 6 kids. It should probably feel tighter than it is, and it actually *does* start to feel pretty tight during the winter when I can't get the kids outside as often as I'd like. But people have asked how we make it work, so here's how!


Our bedrooms are all upstairs (+ one bathroom + storage room), so I mostly don't have to worry about kids thundering past the door when the baby's napping.

Edith naps in our room in a pack n play and we just moved her into the boys' room at night (which was amazing because now she's sleeping through the night! Only took 17 months...). The boys have an IKEA bunk bed and Edith has a mattress on the floor. Then the other three girls share a room, and eventually (when they're not so ridiculously loud when going to sleep at night) Edith will be moved into their room, so we'll have two sets of bunk beds in there.


The kids spend a LOT of time outside.

I mean, a LOT. It's pretty contingent on good weather, because I still haven't figured out how to get them to stay out for hours when it's sub-freezing or raining or anything. But during spring? They're out there before breakfast a lot of the time, always outside after breakfast, (school goes in here but we're almost done for the year) mandatory "outside time" goes from about 12-1:30 (when the baby's napping and I sit inside eating chocolate and drinking Aldi sparkling water), and then I'm usually out there with them until 4 or so.

At 4 pm we do a clean sweep of the entire downstairs (living room, dining room, Grandma washes dishes in the kitchen and I try to get that floor swept also), and the kids go to Grandma's while I make dinner. Then after dinner they're outside again until bedtime, and bedtime gets moved later and later during the summer because... If they're out there leaving us alone, we let them stay up a lot later.


"Outside time" really does seem like a lovely thing for me, doesn't it? Unfortunately we're still working on the whole "you must stay outside for all of outside time or else I'll lock the doors" and I spend a lot of time refereeing fights, helping Peter with the inevitable potty emergency, refereeing more fights, and dealing with children who want to come inside early (because it's where I am). Generally wherever I am, they want to be. But I do much better with a little bit of a break from the constant neediness so... They'll learn eventually, but it always takes a while to get them back into good habits with the changing seasons and changing routines.


Speaking of Edith sleeping through the night, a lot of people have asked how we did it. Which always makes me chuckle because guys, she's 17 months old, it's not like she's 6 weeks old and sleeping through the night! Normally we move kids out of our room around 15 months (twins moved earlier) because I'm usually pregnant at that point, although this time I'm not. Then within a few nights of being in their own room, they're usually sleeping through the night on their own because Andrew goes to them if they wake up, and once they realize they're not getting milk, they decide it's not worth the trouble of waking up.

SO! Mattress on the floor. Dad's in charge. And we waited way too long. It's not exactly a parenting book's worth of advice... But I will say one thing, we always psych ourselves out and think it'll be horrible and that it's way easier just to keep the baby in our room and not risk waking the other kids up. But the fact is, the other kids sleep like the dead and nothing could wake them up. And it's always SO MUCH BETTER to have our own bedroom back.

So if you're on the fence? Just move that baby out of your room!


I mentioned above that we're almost done with school - we have four books to finish up, and John Paul and Cecilia both want to read multiple chapters a day so that we don't have to drag things out any longer.

Actually I just realized we're about to start Ponder for Kids (affiliate link!) but it doesn't feel very school-ish so I won't worry about that...

I'm SO ready to be done! A few days ago they both happened to take tests for their math chapters that they had just finished, and I asked if they'd like to begin a new chapter or just be done with math for the year. You'll be SHOCKED to hear that they both voted to be done with math for the year.

Then yesterday John Paul found the portable DVD player and they all sat like zombies in front of the tiny screen, watching the next math lesson for John Paul's book. This is what happens when you don't give your kids much screen time.

Anyway, I decided I should probably give John Paul a standardized test to cap off his year, so I let him do the CAT test, knowing that he's weird like Andrew and me and would probably LOVE it (everybody in my family and Andrew's family loves standardized tests. It's just how our brains work).

And he adored it. He didn't want to take ANY breaks, but I finally convinced him to stop for lunch. So even with a lunch break, he blew through the whole thing in an hour (I think it's supposed to take 2? But I've always been a fast test taker, so that seems reasonable to me), then danced around waiting for his scores, saying, "I hope I pass, I really hope I pass!!!"

You'll be shocked to hear that he passed. We have plenty of parenting challenges with these crazy (CRAZY) kids, but at least standardized tests will probably not be something we ever struggle with?


I was going to get back going on the MUTU system during Lent, then made it a few weeks and ran out of steam because of some extra work I was doing... But y'all, they redid the system and the videos are really lovely! I always very much preferred that Wendy, the trainer, has a British accent and doesn't yell at you like in a lot of other videos. And now they've got ladies doing the exercises who are a wide range of sizes, which is a nice touch! Plus pregnancy modifications, too.

All that to say, the system is on sale this weekend! It's the first sale they've had since they revamped everything, and you can get 20% off with the code MOMS20 - here's my affiliate link if you'd like to send an extra commission my way! You know I wouldn't recommend this if I didn't think it was legitimately awesome, and it's made such a huge difference for me. You can read my full review here. If it's too long to click through, I'll give you a quick recap:

- My chronic back pain was eliminated after just a few weeks doing the MUTU exercises
- My belly was visibly flatter and firmer (it'll never be totally flat, and I'm okay with that)
- My diastasis recti closed up after about 8 weeks (you can do the program even if you don't have DR! It'll help you no matter what)
- I no longer needed to grab the handles inside our monster van to haul myself up
- I can squat to weed in the garden without killing my knees, because I actually know how to squat properly now

Without the sale, the price is comparable to other systems (which I can't vouch for, but I think they're all pretty similar and get good reviews?), but with the sale you get a pretty darned good deal, IMO. Here's my link again!

(FYI the code doesn't apply to the kit bag - you can buy all those things on Amazon for about what they'll cost you from MUTU, but you can get them all for $27 through MUTU if you buy at the same time as you purchase the program, which might be easier than putting a kit bag together yourself)


I'm headed to see Jennifer Fulwiler speak tonight! She's the one who originated this linkup, so it feels appropriate to post a 7 Quick Takes post on the day that I meet someone I've been internet friends with for years!

Linking up with Kelly! I won't be wearing an awesome top hat like her, unfortunately.

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