Life on the Funny Farm

http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com

Where the critters outnumber the humans, the children outnumber the grown-ups, where love can be found in abundance, and good judgement is in short supply.

Anne is a winner of Top 25 Moms With Big Families - 2013

What has having a big family taught you about motherhood?

I've learned a thing or two about patience.
I've also learned that all the control stuff I thought was so important when I had the first kid or two aren't so important after all.

What tips do you have for meal planning?

Much of the time when I'm cooking, I cook up double, One for dinner and one for the freezer. Instead of using casserole dishes, I use gallon ziplock bags so they take up less room.

How do you get your children involved with chores? Please share what age these tips are appropriate for.

Although there are some chores the kids do all the time (like their laundry, clearing their place at the table, etc), we rotate other chores on a weekly basis. I have six kids, but have five chore groups in the rotation. This allows for one of the kids to be "star of the week", or if one of them is away from home for awhile it won't affect the chores. The chores in the rotation are dishwasher (load and empty)/gather up dishes lying around the house; pet care; laundry (towels) and straighten up; dinner helper (assist with dinner most nights, cook dinner one night)/grocery helper (help put groceries away, wash the fruit); table helper (clear the table, put leftovers away, clean stove, wash pots and pans)/trash and recycling. The heavier chores that can't be done by everyone (like mowing the grass and weed-wacking) get rotated through the older kids. Our kids are all teenagers, and this has been working well. We do not pay them for their chores, but point out that we all have to contribute to the family.

What's a great present for a tween?

Anne Kimball

I am a Mom to six kids, and the one gift each year that they look forward to more than anything else? One on one time. Each year, on or around their birthday, either my husband or myself will take the birthday child out for one on one time. The outings have ranged from a bookstore to the ballet, from manicuress to a musical concert, and everything in between. For parent-child gifts, these are perfect for building those special memories, but they do require time. When time is in short supply, I often choose personalized gifts for my tweens or young teens. I have given photo mugs, calendars comprised of pictures of a cherished pet, and photo collage posters. The possibilities with the personalized photo gifts are endless, and can include stationery sets, mousepads, even jewelry. They are pretty convenient to shop for nowadays, too, as there are numerous online sites such as Snapfish, as well as your local drugstore.
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Couponing: Essential budget skill or time waster?

Anne Kimball

I no longer get the paper for coupons b/c it seemed I would buy too many things that I didn't really need. Instead, I look thru my store's weekly circular to see what's on special that I would normally buy. I write those items down, then go to eBay and type in a search for coupons of that item. They are usually sold in batches of 20 and you can get them for $1 - 3.00. They come to me in the mail and I take them with me the following week . For instance, my kids like to eat Campbell's Chunky soups for after school snack. They're usually $2.00 a can. My store was running a special on them for $1.00 a can, so I found coupons for them on eBay for save $1.00 off 2. That means I got them for 50 cents a can. It's really been helping a lot.
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How much help should parents give their kids with homework?

Anne Kimball

Homework should be practice for the child for concepts already learned in school. That being said, I have no problem giving guidance and support, but I do not sit side-by-side and go over problem-by-problem. If the material is over my child's head, it's time for a conversation with the teacher. I also feel strongly that most projects should be done in school, b/c today's parent has a VERY hard time keeping hands-off. I have a close friend that I tease b/c she'll start telling me all about her HIGH SCHOOL daughter's project, and she'll get a twinkle in her eye as she describes it. She just beams with pride as she tells me all "her dtr's" clever ideas. HA! And what happens when these projects are turned in? The students that did the work themselves get downgraded b/c they pale in comparison. I'm telling you, this is NOT the right approach if we want to produce independent, resourceful young adults out of our schools.
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What are the best ways to keep kids entertained & well-behaved at a formal event or luncheon such as wedding?

Anne Kimball

As a Mom to six kids, I've always liked pipe cleaners. I used to give them to the kids on airplanes, road trips, church services, etc. They're quiet, They foster creativity, The possibilities of what you can do with them are endless, They fit easily into a purse or diaper bag.
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What's your family's favorite board game, and why? (Please mention the best ages for the game)

Anne Kimball

Our favorite game is Scaventure. It encourages creativity more than any other game I know, and all ages can participate. Plus it gets everyone (our whole family of 8) up and moving and having a great time. It's wonderful!
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