Monday, October 25, 2010

How it works for us

I realize that I haven't quite finished explaining our day's schedule, but before I continued I wanted to take a little time to clarify something.  I've had several questions lately asking how I actually stick with a schedule like this.  The truth is, I don't!  That's the beauty of this system!  Many days there are unexpected plans, interruptions or I'm just plain too tired.  But that's okay!  The schedule is not to rule our life.  The schedule is to equip me to better manage our life.

The most important lesson I've learned so far is to take it a day at a time.  Don't worry about catching up after a missed day.  Don't worry about cramming a whole weeks school and chores into two days because family is coming for the weekend.  That's what I love about having the chores mapped out!  If it got skipped this week, it will come around again next week, or next month, or tomorrow!  I can't expect everything to be perfect today.  Instead I have to appreciate the little changes that made today better.

Some weeks run like clock work.  Lately however, we've had to modify things slightly.  My husband assures me though, "Morning sickness doesn't last forever!". 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Ten

6:00~ Wake up, morning routine

6:30~ Exercise/ shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed, have hair done
7:00~ Breakfast
7:30~ Breakfast clean-up, morning chores
8:00~ Prayer and Bible time
9:00~ School
10:30~ Break/ snack, switch laundry to dryer
11:00~ Finish school
11:30~ Weekly chores
12:00~ Lunch
12:30~ Lunch clean-up, house pick up, fold and put away laundry

1:00~  Reading Time!!!

It always feels so good to reach this point in the day.  Ella goes down for her second nap and then the three big girls and I curl up on the couch for our reading time.

We're still working through the "Little House" series now.  We read usually one, sometimes two chapters each day.  The girls are to sit quietly and raise their hand only for pertinent questions.  This time is wonderful for slowing down and taking a break.  It also transitions us perfectly into......

1:30~ Nap time!!!

Ella sleeps in her crib, Havilah sleeps on the guest bed, Bethany sleeps in our bed and Lydia sleeps on the love seat.  Often Lydia never really sleeps, but she still must lay quietly with a book for her hour.  That leaves the couch open for me!  Or if I'm not feeling desperate for a nap one day ( this rarely happens!), I have an hour open for reading, blogging or whatever else suits my fancy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scheduling Our Lives~ Part Nine

6:00~ Wake up, morning routine
6:30~ Exercise/ shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed, have hair done
7:00~ Breakfast
7:30~ Breakfast clean-up, morning chores
8:00~ Prayer and Bible time
9:00~ School
10:30~ Break/ snack
11:00~ Finish school
11:30~ Weekly chores

12:00~ Lunch!!!

Just like breakfast, we choose to keep lunch extremely simplified around here!  Paper plates are a must!  We either eat leftovers (I try and make generous dinners!) or we have cheese and bean burritos.  Refried beans, grated cheese and a tortilla zapped for 30 seconds.  EASY!  Throw in some apples, carrots, celery with peanut butter, bananas or whatever else sounds good at the time!

Even when offered a choice of different leftovers, they usually choose the burritos! 

12:30~  Clean-up!!!

Lunch clean-up requires about 1 minute.  This leaves 29 minutes to sweep through the main body of the house and make sure everything is back in it's place.  Remember, it was picked up during morning chores so this step is very simple!  I forgot to mention earlier that during our 10:30 break is when I switch the laundry to the dryer, so during this time we also fold and put away the dry clothes.

By now, school is finished, the house is picked up and our bellies are full.  I bet you can guess what comes next!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Eight

6:00~ Wake up , morning routine
6:30~ Exercise/shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed, get hair done
7:00~ Breakfast
7:30~ Morning Chores
8:00~ Prayer and Bible time
9:00~ School
10:30~ Break and snack
11:00~ Finish school

11:30~ Weekly chores!

Remember how I said I divided all of our household chores into daily, weekly and monthly categories?  The daily chores are our morning chores.  The weekly chores fit into this slot right here!

I have two that I do daily~

Monday~ Clean refrigerator and clean microwave
Tuesday~ Clean oven and hood, wipe off garbage can
Wednesday~ Pick up pantry floor, mop
Thursday~ Organize TV stand, clean bathroom mirror
Friday~ Dust bedroom, Vacuum upstairs
Saturday~ Organize school shelves

I know for me, some of these jobs have always seemed a bit overwhelming and if you had told me that I would be doing two of them in a half hour, I would have laughed at you.  I'm amazed to see how easy they are when they are done every week!  It makes a HUGE difference!

The big girls each have one weekly chore that they are responsible for each day.  Then they switch every other week.

One week it would go like this~

Monday~ Lydia~ Sweep and clean off hearth.  Bethany~ Dust with rag and spray.
Tuesday~ Lydia~ Organize diaper corner.  Bethany~ Clean out couch.
Wednesday~ Lydia~ Straighten shoe shelf by the back door.  Bethany~ Organize shoe cupboard.
Thursday~ Lydia~ Take out bathroom garbage and replace bag.  Bethany~ Clean toilet.
Friday~ Lydia~ Dust girl's room.  Bethany~ Strip sheets from bed (every other week girl sheets/ our sheets).
Saturday~ Lydia~ Pick up clothes room floor.  Bethany~ Straighten clothes shelf.

Then they would switch the next week.  This really, truly takes us half of an hour!  It is amazing to watch how easy these jobs are when they are done consistently! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Seven

6:00~  Wake up! , morning routine
6:30~  Exercise, shower
6:45~  Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed, have hair done
7:00~  Breakfast
7:30~  Morning Chores
8:00~  Prayer and Bible time

9:00~ School!

School has been such a blast this year!  One of the greatest things about being a second generation home schooler is the fact that I've been able to see first hand the books and programs that really work, and those that don't.  Obviously this is different for each parent and student!  I will be sharing the specifics of what we do, but it is a bit of a mish mash!

Our schooling philosophy is a little different than most.  We are not too concerned with work pertaining to "grade levels".  In other words, Lydia doesn't have  kindergarten math, kindergarten reading, kindergarten spelling, kindergarten language, kindergarten handwriting, kindergarten history, kindergarten science, kindergarten health, and a kindergarten art program.  For one thing, I believe kids learn at many different speeds in many different areas and also that they are capable of learning more in depth about certain areas if you focus on certain things at a time.  That's why you'll see many different grade levels represented in our books!

First off, I do reading with Lydia while Bethany works in her maze book and Havilah has blanket time .

 Bethany is assigned 4-5 mazes.

After a very slow start, Lydia has begun to cruise in reading!  It is so exciting for her to see the progress!

After about 10 min. we switch.  I do reading with Bethany while Lydia works on Language. 

( A Beka Language 1)

She has really enjoyed this language book, although it does progress very quickly!

Bethany LOVES reading!  

Next We go back to the table where Bethany does her Rod and Staff "Counting with numbers" book and Lydia finishes up language and does her handwriting.

We have loved these books for the very beginners!

It starts very simple yet moves at a manageable pace.

For handwriting, I really like the Reason for Writing books.  I didn't like the kindergarten one, but the other grades are lots of fun!

I don't make her write every letter on every page.  If she is proving that she is working diligently and is doing a good job, I let her leave off a line or so!

At 9:45, Bethany and Havilah get to go upstairs and watch Signing Time. 

During that time Lydia and I work on Math. Right now she is in A Beka's Arithmetic 2.  It also progresses VERY fast (welcome to A Beka!).  Once again, most of the time she isn't required to do every problem on every page.  School is about learning, and we are the ones who can tell if that is happening!

After math, Lydia practices her piano.

Around now, this little monkey is waking up from her first nap and the other girls are finishing their movie.  

We spend a VERY short time reading some history.  I LOVE history, but we aren't spending too much time in it these days.  We will someday!  Right now we simply read a small portion out of this book which highlights major historical figures in American history.

At 10:30 they have a half hour break with some sort of snack (Pretzels, apples, tomato slices with sugar. Something like that!)

At 11:00 were back to finish up school!

Our geography consists of two place mats.  Very high tech!

The girls at this time are working on continents, oceans and states.

For science we are S L O W L Y working through "Exploring Creation with Zoology 1~ Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day".  I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It is slightly beyond my girls at this point, but we are baby stepping through it and gleaning what we can. Right now we are studying birds and are learning all about lift and drag, complete with fun experiments!

We end school at 11:30.  I realize that this is really a state of bliss as far as home schooling goes!  I'm sure it will be a completely different story when I have eight children in school at one time!

Sorry if this was a little long and tedious!  Just thought I'd lay it all out there!  Any questions?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Six

6:00~ Wake up ,  Morning routine 
6:30~ Exercise/shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed and get hair done
7:00~ Breakfast
7:30~ Morning chores

8:00~ Prayer and Bible time

This has become a precious part of our day.  The girls and I all gather next to the fire.  First we all think of something we can thank God for.  Next we pull out our prayer notebook.  Right now it is simply a long list of names of family members, missionaries, neighbors, church family etc., each numbered 1-15.  One day we pray for the 1's, the next day the 2's etc..  I hope to put it together into a binder soon, complete with pictures, but it's not done yet!  We take turns picking someone from the list, talking about what we can pray for them, and then praying.  After that we pray for Daddy.  I close by praying for our day.

Our Bible verses come next.  We've been reviewing so far as we were pretty lazy over the summer.  It has been so refreshing to get back into hiding His word in our hearts.  Remember, even the youngest children can benefit from scripture and you will be amazed at what they are able to retain!

We then move to the table where we pull out the Bible, paper and colored pencils.  For Bible, I read a chapter (or section), we discuss it and the girls draw a picture of it.  Their pictures will be made into a book.

If you can't tell, here we have Eve taking the fruit, giving it to Adam, Adam and Eve hiding from God and the angels guarding the way to the garden of Eden.

All of our good intentions really aren't worth that much if we don't actually take the time to teach our children the Word of God.  It's something I have consistently struggled with.  Having it scheduled in has been such a blessing!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Five

Here we go!

6:00~ Wake up! , morning routine .
6:30~ Exercise/ shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make beds, get dressed, have hair done
7:00~ Breakfast

7:30~ Breakfast clean-up, morning chores

Meal clean-up  is very simple.  The girls rotate meals weekly. This week Lydia is breakfast, Havilah is lunch and Bethany is dinner.  At this point the helper simply clears the dishes after the meal and washes the table.  After breakfast however, the lunch helper puts away the top of the dishwasher and the dinner helper puts away the bottom.  ( We keep all of our eat on dishes in a bottom cupboard so the girls are able to empty the dishwasher and set the table at a young age.)  During this time I am doing what very little breakfast clean-up there is.

Next come the morning chores.  When I sat down to organize our cleaning schedule, the first thing I did was right down ALL of our household chores. Then I divided them into daily, weekly and monthly chores.  The daily chores are our morning chores.

There conveniently are 12 daily chores (not counting make beds, laundry, pick up bedrooms etc., that are done at other times) that are easily divided into four groups for the four of us girls to accomplish.

We color code the four groups. They are~

Pick up living room floor, pick up upstairs hallway, pick up downstairs hallway

Pick up stairs and landing, pick up dining room floor, pick up office floor

Feather dust living room, wipe off bathroom counter, swish toilet

Sweep kitchen, sweep bathroom, vacuum living room/ dining room

Now Havilah can only do pink and green and Lydia is the only one who can do yellow, so it's not an equal rotation.  I'm sure there is a simpler way to keep track of it all, but I just print off blank calender sheets for each girl and write in which color they are doing each week.  We switch weekly. 

Morning chores run very smoothly. None of these are more than each girl can handle and accomplish in a very short amount of time.  The key to this part of the day is inspecting!  It takes an incredibly minuscule amount of time per chore, but it assures that a job is being done correctly and whole-heartedly. 

Havilah picking up the living room

Bethany gets the dining room looking ship-shape

Lydia wipes that counter 'til it shines!

Now I know that people have many different opinions about "making children work".  Let me assure you, our children are not our slaves.  We are in no way interested in "getting what we can" from our children.  Children thrive from responsibility.  Chores are fabulous for teaching diligence, patience and a good work ethic.  We believe strongly in work and play.  Both have a place and a right and wrong way to do it.

Do be careful when inspecting their chores to always be an encouragement.  They are young.  They won't do it like you.  They need to be gently trained how to do things to the best of their abilities. 

Our morning chores get us off to a flying start.  The house starts out looking ready for company, which has been a pretty foreign thing around here!

If something doesn't make sense to you, please feel free to ask about it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scheduling Our Days~ Part Four

Thus far we've covered~

6:00~ Get out of bed. Do morning routine .
6:30~ Exercise/ shower
6:45~ Girls wake up, make bed, get dressed and get hair done

7:00~ Breakfast

Once again I feel a little embarrassed making this confession to you.  We eat the same thing for breakfast almost  every    single     morning  (on school days).  And it's (Gulp!) Granola!

I know this sounds about as "Granola Mom" as you can get.  I guess because it literally is.  But let me tell you, it is soooooo easy and soooooo delicious that we haven't burned out on it yet.  I had originally planned on switching between oatmeal and granola, but as I said, oatmeal is ten times the work (which I admit is not that much!) and ten times less delicious. 

I'm sure you weren't really hoping for a recipe today, but here it is non the less.

If possible, find a beautiful assistant.  Makes it tons more fun!

Mix together~ 8 cups rolled oats
                      1 1/2 cup oat bran
                      1 1/2 cup flax meal
                      2 cups coconut
                      2 cups slivered almonds

In a separate pan add~ 1 1/2 tsp. salt
                                    1 cup brown sugar
                                    1/2 cup honey
                                    1 cup oil
                                    1 Tbl. cinnamon
                                    1 Tbl. vanilla

Bring this to a boil and then pour over dry ingredients.

Mix well and pour onto two greased cookie sheets or 9x13 pan and bake for 20 min. at 325'.  Stir once half way through.

It should be just barely brown when it's done.  Don't wait for it to be crisp and crunchy!  It does that as it cools!

The great thing about granola is you can add yogurt, fresh fruit or berries, dried fruit or berries, nuts or anything you feel like!

It takes me about 37 seconds to put the bowls, spoons, jar of granola and milk on the table.  Clean up is hardly any longer.  We are filled, happy and ready for the rest of our day!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scheduling Our Lives~ Part Three

I admit, I didn't get very far yesterday .  I probably won't make it too far today either so brace yourself!  I guess I have this feeling that if I just plow through the whole thing it won't make any sense.  Bear with me.  Just think how good I am for your patience building!

So here is the start of the day~

6:00 ~ Mommy wakes up and does her morning schedule.

This part probably seems incredibly elementary to most of you, but boy has it improved my manner of living! 

The first thing I do after gettng out of bed is turn around and make the bed.  Simple.  Easy.  Life changing.

(My husband loves that blanket.  I dream of the day our bed is beautiful and romantic.  Until then, I comfort myself with the fact that my husband loves that blanket.  Sigh.)

After that, I get dressed (or stay in my pjs until after I've exercised) and quickly scoop up any dirty clothes that are in the room.

(Do you see that?!  That really is my room!  And the floor really is clean!)

The best part about this step is it literally takes about 20.3 seconds!  And my room stays clean.  Unbelievable!

Next, I head downstairs with my handful of laundry and throw it immediately into the empty washer where I add more clothes and start a load.

It's now been about four minutes since I rolled out of bed ( ten on a bad day!) and already my bed is made, my room is clean and laundry is going.  I love it!

Now it is time for me to sit down next to the roaring fire (thanks to my amazing hubby who can make a roaring fire in four minutes compared to the half hour it takes for me to get a flame), eat a little breakfast and enjoy some time reading the Word and being with Jesus.

6:30 (ish)~  Hopefully I have some time to get in some exercise followed by a quick shower.  This is the portion of my day that needs some tweaking.  I would love a full half hour to exercise (for me I usually do a walking DVD, TTapp, or some random pilates or something like that.) and ten to fifteen minutes to shower.  Wake up even earlier?  It looks like I may need to.  At this point my exercise time is being cut pretty short or if Daddy is going to be around I can shower during breakfast time.

6:45-50~  Girls are roused from their beds.  Like me, the first things they do are make their beds.  They have comforters so this process isn't too complicated.  Next they get dressed and have their hair done. Hair done before breakfast you ask?  Yes.  Here's why.

That fine hair wouldn't stand a chance!  And getting dressed before breakfast tends to get them moving a little better.  Somehow it is much more tempting to stay plopped at the breakfast table when your still in your nice warm jammies then when your already going for the day.

So that's the beginning of our day.  Not very complicated, but it sure starts us out on a good foot!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Scheduling Our Lives~ Part Two

(First of all, thanks to those of you who have been so gracious and understanding.  I've never had such a difficult time pressing "publish post" as I did with that previous post.  Of course now I'm posting a picture of me freshly tumbled out of bed so maybe this will come close!)

I had a hard time deciding where to start, since our morning's success largely depends on the evening before. However, I decided to go for the more straight forward approach so I'll begin first thing in the morning. 

So you all know, I am NOT a morning person.  When I dream of the most blissful vacation I could imagine, the first thing that always comes to mind is being buried in a mountain of blankets and not budging until I'm good and ready.  Mornings have always been a struggle for me.  My Dad has gotten up in the five o'clock hour for as long as I can remember and I always wished that I had more of his genes!

Even after five and a half years of being a parent, I have never been in the habit of getting up before my children.  I knew that was going to be key in successfully changing the way we live.  So with much fear and trepidation, we set the alarm for 6:00 every morning and don't push snooze!  Those of you with mornings in your blood, I'm trying not to be envious of you.  I was very near kicking and biting as my beloved prompted me out of bed this morning

Here I am at 6:00.  And please don't say, "You always look like that!".  That really would not be comforting at this point!  For those of you who can relate to my plight, let me assure you.  It really does get better!  You don't feel like a zombie every day! (Only on random days like today!).  Getting to bed at a decent time is crucial, and before you know it, it's exciting to get up in the morning and think about all you can get done!

In a nutshell, getting up early is really worth it!  It has been the greatest contributor to how smoothly our days run.  My husband and I get up at 6:00.  That's the first slot on our schedule.

I warned you! Baby steps!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scheduling Our Lives~ Part One

I've been promising for months now to share our new schedule.  I've found the prospect of that much more daunting than I anticipated though!  How can something that simplifies our lives by leaps and bounds be so complicated to explain?

I'll start with the history of the schedule.  I love being a wife.  I love being a mommy.  I love cooking, baking, creating, planning and adventuring.  There is one part that really doesn't come naturally though.  The cleaning.  It's not that I don't like the actually doing of it, it's just that the actually doing of it has a way of not getting done!

I've always known this is a problem of mine.  I go in trends, like a compulsive dieter who loses ten pounds, gains ten pounds, loses ten pounds, gains ten pounds (come to think of it, I can relate to that too!).  Just as I think I'm finally getting things "under" control, a night where I'm too tired to touch the dinner dishes brings me to a morning where everything has gone crazy again.

As much as I hate to admit it, I can live quite comfortably in a slobby home.  I know many of you by now are cringing, gagging and trying to imagine how I cope, but that's just the trouble.  I actually cope very well.  So while I "knew" I had to fix things, the tyranny of the "urgent" kept me from ever really keeping up. 

Until one day, a verse got stuck in my head.  Not sure why, except that I know the Lord had much to tell me.  "The wise woman builds her house.  The wise woman builds her house. The wise woman builds her house." and then the second part hit me like a sledge hammer. "But with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down."  I knew exactly where I stood.  If there is one thing I am completely driven by, it is the knowledge that I DO NOT want to be a fool!  That was the day I took these pictures.  Do I enjoy sharing them now?  No way.  It's pretty humiliating.  But I know that I am nothing without Christ, and with Him I can be victorious.  

Our schedule has not been the golden ticket that makes life roses and sunshine.  It has been a tremendous tool that has benefited our family greatly.  The real secret though, is not in any secret formula.  The secret to a happy and fulfilling home is simply by taking the Lord at His word in everything (even the pride wounding areas!) and obeying.  Our schedule has helped. Tons!  But it's not going to be the answer to all of your problems. The Lord is.  

I'll be baby stepping through what we're doing during the next couple of weeks.  And remember, this is just what works for us! 

Thanks to those of you who still love me and who may even still speak to me in public!

Friday, October 1, 2010

I wouldn't miss it!

One of my more brilliant additions to our Fall schedule (full schedule details to arrive next week!) has been the generous allotment of time devoted for naps.  We're all getting up earlier, we're all more tired!  On Monday, I was more than ready to catch a quick nap with the girls!  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday found me feeling much perkier and able to carry on without one.  Today however, my sleeping adjustments had caught up to me and I was counting down to nap time all day!  Unfortunately, while my middle two were as tired as I was, My oldest and my youngest really weren't buying it.

After trying very unsuccessfully to rest with a squirming eight month old, I thought of something brilliant!  "Lydia, would you quietly play with Ella while Mommy rests?".  "Sure!!!".

It was such a grand idea!  The two played happily and silently five feet away from me.  But there was a problem I hadn't counted on.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of them!  They were so precious, that I knew this was a moment I didn't want to miss!

Life is speeding by.  Some opportunities are simply too priceless to sleep through!