Chore Schedules

I thought I might share my general chore scheduling, past and present.  These are representative of my plan for eons it seems. The main change has been adding new helpers at certain ages and deleting children who graduate and leave.  For many years, we kept a bathroom chore schedule in the children’s bathroom so each one would have a ready reminder for their chore. I finally placed myself on the list for one job a week also.  This took a great deal of discipline for me when my days were already so hectic with toddlers and babies in the mix, but I did so for several reasons.  One, I could have any child who was not efficient at their chore do it with me again.  Two, it helped me to be diligent to inspect what I expect.  Three, I think Mom should lead by example in helping another at their tasks. I am not above cleaning a mess they made if needed.  Four, children are more willing to clean their share if the job never gets too gross, so, every month, I knew each part would be very clean for a week!  Five, a clean bathroom cuts germs and sickness immensely, saving me from many troubles and doctor bills.

Bathroom Chores

Bathroom Chores

Now that each is older and knows how to do each chore, each should do the entire bathroom on his week at least once and the sink daily. The youngest still works with me on my week to observe and practice. By this method, the bathroom is not often an embarrassment for family or surprise company, since I have forced myself to make a habit of checking up on it.

Bi Monthly Chores

By Monthly Chores

Once, for several months, we tried this schedule of rotating chores twice a month. This had many advantages, the fatal flaw being the inequality of days per month of work since some months are longer and some had more Sundays to be off than others, so we finally returned to a weekly schedule, such as our current one,( shown next.) I still do help all the boys with the kitchen chore each day, but they do what they are able.

This one also allows for the inevitable fifth week that occurs 3 – 5 times a year which I write on the regular calendar so we will all know when that is.  Cleaning and inspecting their bedrooms before school is automatic now as well so that is not included here.

Current Schedule

 

This last Saturday chart has been up for years, mainly for me for things I might forget otherwise.  Though a bit messy and somewhat obsolete, it still reminds me of some sporadic jobs for myself and the others that can be assigned as needed.

All of these pictures were taken and uploaded by Seth, 13.  He even gave me a lesson so I may try it myself soon.   Happy Housekeeping!

Melanie

Saturday Chores

School Schedules

I have a new article up  on my website called Finding Joy in Scheduling.  Sometimes it takes me days and a few revisions to finalize a school year schedule, but it is worth every minute.  Much time saved and many goals accomplished are very restful to the heart at days end.

Besides my usual schedule, I had to make a separate list today to be certain that I finished the major things that had to be done.  Today, grading chemistry, cleaning spots on a rug (the dog thought I needed something extra to do), and deep cleaning one bathroom with my seven year old (he loves to clean the sink!) were in my chore slot. Yes, grading chemistry is a chore(not the highlight of my week), but it must be done. If I didn’t have a scheduled time for such things it would be hard to focus on what is best to do each day.

If you generally get by without a schedule, I encourage you to try one until Christmas to see why they are so beneficial.  Keep it simple and leave wiggle room for all those minor interruptions that will occur.  I also coordinate important things on my purse calendar so that I am not likely to forget either special or routine happenings.

If you have several children to coordinate, don’t let it scare you away from trying.  I have found that the children will even help each other to remember what they have to do next once they see the benefit of it.  Now they look forward to their schedule every year.

If you want detailed help with designing a schedule that works for your family, I highly recommend the Maxwell’s guide called “Managers of Their Homes.”  You can find it at titus2.com as well as other helps like chore charts.

Smile, its always time for joy.

Melanie

Humerus Incident

We are so busy as moms, it is easy to forget to jot down the darling remarks of our children.  I am sure I have missed many, so I just had to write this one down and share it.

The other day, my seven year old, Brion, had just learned about only the bones and muscles of the arm in his third grade A Beka health.  He had to memorize them and draw them.  He had been very active outdoors that afternoon and was quite tired that night.  Right before bed, he came to me and said, “Mommy, my leg hurts a little right down here.” (pointing to the muscle in his calf area)  “Where?” I asked, looking up.  “Right down here, below my humerus bone.”

I couldn’t help smiling a little over this remark as I helped him feel better (and his tired muscle was fine in the morning.) “Wow!” I thought to myself.  “Isn’t homeschooling grand!”  He had certainly connected his health lesson in his mind enough to remember that the upper arm bone was the humerus. Brion must have assumed the upper leg bone was the same.  Naturally, I found his innocent mistake to be quite humorous and sweet!

Melanie

Fires Again

Fire is a thing to dread.  Another fire happened very close to my house on Sunday over Labor Day weekend.  The weather has been sooo hot and dry through August, well over 100 most days!  Now high winds from Lee have swept in to add danger and it surely did push a grass fire quickly toward the two houses nearest it on the next street and spread quickly toward other houses as well. When we were returning from church, even several miles away we could see the black smoke billowing up behind the white church and steeple which clearly indicated it was not only in our neighborhood but close to our house.   We were very concerned, not knowing whether we would have a house when we got there,  so we prepared the children just in case.  “They are just things inside,” I said, “most of which we can replace.”  They were fine with that, until someone remembered the dog.  Yikes!  I was hoping it was the park for sure now.

We could not get down our street, so had to come in the back way.  Whew!  Ours was fine, but we could see and smell the smoke as the wind moved it toward us.  We first got the dog out and then packed the school books just in case we had to evacuate like the rest of our street had.  Since we had come in the back way, we had a bit of time to collect some things and leave.  No electricity and the smoke building up in the house made leaving a good idea.  But my husband ventured out and asked the men and they said it was now under control although  two houses were total loses and several others had some damage.

So we stayed and started to air out the house  and hose down the roof and yard as the danger would not be over all week.  Sadly, other fires, much bigger, occurred in Bastrop area as well as another just a mile north of us (the next day), plus others to many to list.  I feel terribly sorry for them all!  I feel humbly blessed that we were spared.  Many families and groups and pastors are rising up to help those who lost all and even some pastors have also lost their own homes near Bastrop. They are truly in sync with the great needs that families face and they are uplifting their spirits in a special way. We can all pray for them and maybe find opportunities to give as God provides.

Melanie

Teen Court

Finding good activities for Christian teenagers, that will bless their lives and help others, is a challenge, but I can recommend one program for your teens which easily satisfies the requirement for Texas civics instruction. My teenagers have participated in teen court for many years.  It is an excellent program for giving your teens a good opportunity to do practical civics training while learning about the court system. They can be a real help in the community by helping young offenders, who are also teenagers, to have a second chance  to learn from their mistakes and reform their lives.  At teen court, which is sponsored by a law firm and a Christian judge, each teenager will be a juror and can move through the roles of bailiff, clerk, asst. attorneys for prosecution and defense, then attorneys, and, finally, when they are seniors, they can choose to be a judge.

If you live near Austin, Texas, the first training night for this school year is tonight, Aug. 15th at the Williamson County Annex in Cedar Park, Texas (north of Austin) just off  of Hwy. 183.  Tonight, they will be practicing for the different roles and learning about the real cases they will be trying on Aug. 22nd.  Many homeschoolers participate in this free program, as well as some students from public school and Christian schools in the area.

Another advantage for the teens is that they will develop their speech skills and gain confidence in speaking in front of a group while using their knowledge, training, and values to help their peers. If you would like more information, please check out their website at:  www.ymcateencourt.com    There are other teen courts around Texas as well.

If you live in another state, perhaps a judge in your community may be open to a program such as this.

Blessings to each of you as you plan activities for your teenagers that are worthwhile and an investment in their future.

Melanie

 

School Prep Time

Hi Everyone!
After a three month siesta from blogging, I am ready to jump in again. It is amazing how busy homeschoolers are during May through July, and I am no exception. Since it is too hot now to be outside long in Texas (over 100* daily through August,) I find more time to “relax” and do special housework and organizing. Plus, it is the perfect time to begin to work on scheduling each child’s schoolwork for next year.

We still do light schooling most mornings in summer (maybe two subjects) to reinforce skills in math and finish last chapters of other texts that weren’t done in time. We still wake early to enjoy the cool weather in the morning and have a leisurely breakfast, chores, and playtime, too.

Yesterday, some friends came to visit for the afternoon, so each boy was finished with his room, math, and chores in plenty of time before they arrived. They decided to play outside in the heat for a while. All came in unscathed except my youngest who was stung by a wasp. My immediate procedure for this is to soap and wash off the site, pat dry, and apply a paste of silver water and baking soda. Then apply ice over that and give him ibuprofen and some ice water to sip. It never swelled but is a bit red today so am still doctoring it today. Since this was not a computer day for him, some new library books have taken his mind off the “terror” of it.

Today, early, I first caught up on all the laundry and dishes so I can concentrate the rest of the week on school prep time. After checking the boy’s room and chores, I was free. I began by sorting through the shelves to remove last year’s books, worked on some final grading for my oldest for his transcript, and started gathering school supplies from their storage places. Luckily, my large table is a great spot to spread things out so I can be near and available to everyone…for the usual number of interruptions! This process will take at least a week or more to complete. I have found that it is much better for me to prepare now for the whole year so I can eliminate some stress later and have more time then for other important tasks.

First, today and tomorrow, I make sure each child’s notebooks and papers are organized properly in the right folders which I label with their name, grade, and subject. Then they are grouped and placed in boxes, labeled, ready to go to the attic. Any books that won’t be needed next year which won’t fit in other bookshelves are also boxed and labeled with the grade level for easy retrieval from the attic.

Next, I get to gather each child’s “new”(reusable) textbooks and place them neatly in the assigned shelf. Last year was the first year I only had four children in school, so I only needed four of the six shelves for their books. The other two are finally available for keeping my teaching/ grading supplies more handy. I am also more inclined to grade things in a timely manner. (This year, I am determined to do even better at grading more often!)

Gathering our supplies, to see what I already have, is just as fun, especially when I realize there is not much left to purchase. This year is a particularly frugal year, so creative use of current supplies will be of essence. For one thing, that means reusing last year’s notebooks and putting the ousted papers together in “books” with labeled cover pages. By letting each child use his notebook twice some years, we have saved countless dollars and space, and sometimes they begged to use their favorites again anyway because we generally buy cheap, solid-colored notebooks and let them personalize them. It is hard to give them up sometimes. Last year packs of paper were so much more expensive anyway than the spiral-bound paper, so we could buy five or ten spirals for the price of one pack of paper. I just remove the paper along the cute little perforated lines for their notebooks. I may only have to buy a little college-ruled paper for my senior.

After checking all the supplies, like pencils, rulers, scissors, new glue and sharpeners, I put them into one bin in the garage to bring in on the first day of school. Getting to choose their own is a highlight of that morning. I usually don’t let them look in their “new”shelf of books all those weeks of waiting, not even if they beg, until that first morning, so they are eager to begin school. (well.. sometimes at least!) We make it a relaxed first day of leafing through them, discussing ideas and the school rules, too. In addition, we usually try to celebrate back-to-school somehow with friends, when possible.

Once the schoolbooks are arranged and supplies checked, I can start entering the subjects and pages which will need to be covered daily into their planners. By dividing the number of pages by 180, I get an approximate number of pages to cover per day. If the subject will have tests, I divide by 150 instead, since the other 30 days will be a study day and test day for about ten tests, except spelling which has 36 tests (one each Friday at 11:30 every year for each child!) For the other ten days in each subject, I adjust backwards so that I can insert 7 – 10 “catch-up” days sporadically when I think that topic or a chapter review lesson might need more time. I always do a lot of counting just to be sure, before I write it in, that we will meet our May deadline to finish school. I schedule a bit heavier in the winter months until Christmas, and then in February and early March so we are not hindered indoors as much when spring fever hits. During the year, they really like putting their own special mark on each subject completed so we can plan to be outdoors more when I see they are on track.

It may seem like a lot of work, but it is so much easier to have a prior plan like this. It would be hard (and time consuming!) for me to sit down every week and write out lessons for four students in nine to ten subjects each (36 in all every week.) Cruising through a whole year’s planning in one sitting is more efficient for me. I feel prepared for problems, too, because their special mark will show me exactly where they are in each subject. Thus, when interruptions to the schedule occur(and they will!), then, I can see at a glance how to adjust their work to fit the need. I also feel more assured that if any emergency comes up, then someone else can take over and know what to do without guessing. Another big advantage is that I sleep better at night since I am ready for lessons each morning. If I don’t feel well, or I’m helping another child, then they already know what to do and can even help each other as needed until I am able to get to them. Plus, knowing in advance what they are studying, and when, has helped so much in choosing books at the library for topics of interest, book reports, and research papers!

Even if you use the classical method or the Charlotte Mason plan, at least some written form of planning ahead will help you accomplish your goals, too. There is plenty of time still left to try and write out and finalize ideas. Pray and plan. Plan and pray some more. Since none of us know what trials God will allow in our lives in the months ahead, it would be wise to prepare while time is available.

I hope all of you will be wise and frugal in planning your school days. Joy is closer each day when you have the peace of mind that accompanies a written plan.
For God’s glory,
Melanie

Spring Fires

This spring has been very unusual in Texas. It has been ultra hot for almost two months (8o’s and 90’s) about 10 degrees or more above average. The worst of it, though, is that we have had almost no rain for months and it has been very windy most days here, so the fire danger has been very high. Warnings and alerts have been issued reminding people to be careful. Some have still carelessly ignited infernos that have destroyed many houses.

A major fire in west Texas still blazes but is under control, last I heard. Many houses were lost. Lately, last Sunday, a fire down in Austin, near the edge of town blazed and destroyed 100 acres and 11 houses went up! A homeless man decided to cook his breakfast behind or near a convenience store and left it unwatched to go in and buy beer. Terrible tragedy!

That same afternoon, just north of Austin, around the corner from my house at the next street,(one house kitty-corner from ours) a fire started right next to the road, likely from a cigarette, which burned into that neighbor’s yard and along the border of the street up to the fence. The fire engine arrived quickly and put it out so there is just a small burned area as a stark reminder that the danger is everywhere.

Firemen were not so handy out in another county just south of Austin this week. Someone was barbecueing on the second story porch in a neighborhood and embers blew and ignited a home next door, plus another caught fire also. It takes longer to respond when the trucks have to travel farther. Everything is like tinder in Texas is seems. When rain finally arrives, lightning may spark more fires.

The fire near my house has prompted me to consider more carefully what we should do in case of a dreaded fire. So once again, I discussed with the children what to do in case of fire, how to get out, and where to meet, etc. For those of you in Texas, it might be wise to have certain things that you value ready to take should your worst fear happen. Important papers here are already in a fireproof safe, so ideally I can think to grab such things as my Bible and purse. One friend and I had an idea to put all favorite family pictures on a CD to be ready to take so they would be replaceable. Another copy could also be buried in a waterproof container in the yard somewhere as an extra precaution.

To anyone in Texas reading this, I urge you to have a fire emergency talk with your children just to be on the safe side. It may save your lives.

Blessings,
Melanie

Spring Cleaning

The sunny days and blooming of flowers here in Texas always remind me of the fresh start of spring, and it always puts me in the mood to purge the old and make more beauty bloom in my home. This year, I decided to start with the worst tasks of all: the refrigerator and the bathroom. I just do a room every few days so I don’t become over-exhausted. What a relief to have them finished so the rest of the house will now be a breeze to clean.

Earlier this week, I first tackled deep cleaning both the bathrooms and won that battle alone in less than two hours. The weekly cleaning only takes about 20 minutes, so this seemed like a lot of work. The shower curtains took the longest even with my trusty squirt bottle. Such a sense of accomplishment to have it finished after I put the freshly laundered blue rugs back in place.Last night I found some free time to clean the dreaded fridge, and I could hardly believe that my two youngest boys were begging to help me do the back and bottom of the fridge, until I realized it mainly meant that they could stay up late. I do a regular cleaning and wiping every two weeks usually, but some spills that go behind and under the shelves are harder to get to, hence the need to take everything out, including the drawers and shelves, just to reach that. To get the drawers out, we had to pull the fridge all the way out, so Dad and the older two boys did that for me.

After getting the shelves out, even when the boys saw the mess of hardened strawberry juice and picante sauce, they were eager to help. So we spelled each other in reaching in and softening the mess with the squirt bottle and then scrubbing. Even found the missing Twix bar unopened that one son was missing since his birthday(threw that out!). Now, it looks so very clean and they were well rewarded by me for their efforts to help old mom reach and scrub. I was more tired from that workout this morning than they!

Next week, it looks like the laundry room and organizing kitchen shelves and pantry will take priority after school and chores. This job of organizing is more fun. I also need to start yard sale boxes at the same time as well as decide on my homeschooling needs for next year because the used book sale is just weeks away here.

Doing the boys room always proves interesting , too, if time permits. Organizing it is worth the challenge though. Since they “faithfully” do their beds and floor and no food is allowed in there, their room is never really dirty, just gets massively cluttered to me. It is always nice to have neater closets and shelves and dressers. Plus,when I do it, they want to try rearranging soon, but I have to think out how it would work best before starting.

Hope all of you are eagerly enjoying the added exercise of making your rooms pretty and neat.

Joyfully,

Melanie

Surprise Valentine Pancakes

An early morning surprise awaited me this morning. My three musketeers, as they call themselves, had been secretive yesterday evening, and I found out why today! They knew I had to take my son for the breakfast shift before school, so they had a surprise waiting when I emerged from my room at 7: 20. I found out that the ringleader, 12, had arisen at 6:30 am and gotten the other two (age 10 and 7) up and quietly gone to the kitchen where they started Bisquick pancakes for mom.

Seth later said he had divided the recipe to use only a fourth of each ingredient to make three pancakes, (right down to 1/2 an egg!) and tried to shape them in hearts. One was heart shaped, but the best part of all was that even though they love pancakes more than mom, that they only made some for me and ate cereal themselves. Such sacrificial love! What a joy to discover that they love me more than pancakes!

We had a nice time, too. They wanted me to “eat in Luxury” so they said I had to sit on the couch. Mind you, this statement was quite amusing because our couch desperately needs recovering (I have half the material I need to do it so far.) Anyway, then they made me relax and drink some apple juice with ice while they finished arranging my pancakes on a plate and put the powdered sugar on it (my favorite!)

I enjoyed my pleasant but quick meal, and prepared to take my son to work. After I told them thank you so much and was about to leave, Seth remembered he had something for me. He had made a balloon and decorated it to look like me(?) and had made a heart and a very sweet note about all the things he loves about me. I was very surprised.

So the day has started out very lovely. On top of that, they said they are planning to make lunch (pizza boats) and supper (to be decided), too!

My first three sons(now in their 20’s), who also claimed to be the three musketeers when they were young, would not have thought of such a thing at that age (as I had never taught them to cook) but, when they were grown, they began to do special things, on occasion, that warm my heart.

Well, I hope all of you enjoy a pleasant day with your children whether they show their undying love or not. They do love you, you can be sure of that!

Rejoicing,
Melanie

On The Mend

Well, it sure is good to be getting back to a regular schedule now. Still had the two younger ones with mild reoccurring fevers last evening so had to take care of them. We all slept well all night though for the first time. Yay!

It is so very cold again today: maybe 20 degrees at present and may get up to 30 today. Snow is predicted even! We will stay cozy and warm if the electricity stays on. It went off for 20 minutes this am. I really do wish I had thought to buy hot chocolate, but I may google a recipe from cocoa powder, sugar, and milk which I do have. 🙂

We have to catch up on a spelling test today and rearrange the schedule to extend school a couple extra days in May to make up for sick days. It will be smoother to adjust it, since everyone is still not up to par yet with their coughs and all, than to push to “catch up” and risk more problems of relapse. I always set the schedule for each year to end around the 20th of May or sooner so that there will be room to adapt anyway and still finish by the end of May.

Time to get to work. We are starting late since I let them sleep in to stay warm when the electricity was off.

I hope you enjoy a special day with your students, too!

Melanie