Wednesday, September 30, 2009
1. You jump in the shower and realize you have no shaving cream. You:
a. Don't shave at all.
b. Use some bar soap.
c. Shave using your hair conditioner.
d. Send your husband to the store and ask him to buy you your favorite brand.
2. Your family is on a long car trip. You have four hours left to drive and your kids are hungry. You:
a. Tell them a little hunger will provide character.
b. Pull out some snacks you packed beforehand.
c. Pull into McDonald's and order off the dollar menu.
d. Stop for a five-course dinner at an expensive restaurant.
3. Your son tears a hole in his last pair of jeans. You:
a. Tell him that torn jeans are in style and to wear them anyway.
b. Patch them up with some material you have on hand.
c. Take him to the thrift store to buy some "new" jeans.
d. Ask him if he prefers Eddie Bauer or Ralph Lauren before you head to the mall.
4. Your best friend asks you to be in her wedding with the understanding you will pay for your dress. You:
a. Ask if denim from your closet will match the color scheme.
b. Look for the bride's choice of dress on Ebay.
c. Pay for the dress the bride chooses even though you know you will never wear it again (and consider that you may be able to sell it on Ebay).
d. Pay for the dress and find cute accessories to go with it, offering to buy the same ones for the whole bridal party so everyone will be coordinated.
5. Valentine's Day is coming up and you know your husband will be getting you something. You:
a. Tell him three months ahead of time that you have always thought it silly to celebrate Valentine's Day and that everyday expressions of love are enough to make you happy.
b. Say nothing about it and hope he forgets.
c. Agree ahead of time how much you will spend on Valentine's Day presents and stick to it.
d. Hint for the three months ahead of time that you have always wanted to go on a cruise the week of February 14.
6. It's nearing Christmas and your kids have been begging for the latest video game system. You:
a. Tell them absolutely not, if an orange was good enough for Grandma it is good enough for them.
b. Tell them they'll have to wait and see and buy them a new outfit.
c. Tell them they'll have to wait and see and buy them last year's system.
d. Tell them of course you will and buy all the newest games to go with it.
7. Your friend surprises you by bringing lunch over--in an Arby's bag. You:
a. Tell her you couldn't think of eating fast food with all the starving people in the world.
b. Thank her profusely and carefully iron out all the sandwich wrappers to use later.
c. Tell her thank you and reciprocate a few weeks later.
d. Tell her that she has started an awesome daily tradition and that you will bring McDonald's over tomorrow.
8. Your mother calls and asks for gift recommendations for your daughter's upcoming birthday. You:
a. Suggest that she make a donation to a charity instead of giving a present to your daughter.
b. Suggest a thrift store gift card because she could really use some new clothes.
c. Give her a list of a few inexpensive but quality things your daughter would enjoy.
d. Give her the website of your daughter's birthday gift registry.
9. Your family decides to splurge and go out to dinner. You:
a. Vote for waters and splitting an order of fries at Burger King.
b. Vote for waters and splitting an appetizer at Denny's.
c. Use coupons to get buy-one-get-one-free dinners for the adults and go on Kids Eat Free night.
d. Order drinks, appetizers, salads, entrees and dessert for each person at a fancy restaurant and tip the waiter 25%.
10. You really love your morning cup of coffee. Your daily tradition is:
a. To brew a cup of coffee in your coffee pot using the same grounds for three days.
b. To brew a cup of coffee in your coffee pot and split it with your husband.
c. To make a pot of coffee each morning and save the leftover coffee for iced coffees later.
d. To stop by Starbucks on the way to work and on the way home for your grande latte with a double shot of syrup and whipped cream.
a - You are hopelessly frugal.
b - You are frugal to a bit of an extreme.
c - You will raise some eyebrows but you're pretty balanced.
d - You could use a few budget cuts.
This is meant totally tongue-in-cheek therefore it need not offend you if any of the examples are actual scenarios in your life! :-)
Monday, September 28, 2009
The other extreme happens as well. I've heard of dogs that have more toys and bigger bedrooms than my kids (or most people's kids for that matter). I remember the craze when Beanie Babies were new at McDonald's and people would buy the happy meals and throw them away to collect the toys. (Now, you can pick up these same Beanie Babies through Freecycle!).
People that believe in frivolity poke fun at the "cheapskates". People that practice frugality shake their heads in disgust at the "spendthrifts". In today's economic times, "keeping up with the Jones' " could be interpreted differently if you have a lot of "green" neighbors. ("Oh, no! Did anyone see me buy that plastic wrap, use it once and
I will make my confessions. I have never used cloth diapers (although I think the diaper covers that are out now are so cute and almost wish I had!). I have made my own laundry soap, used it for a couple of months, and went back to store bought. I occasionally use convenience foods. I only recycle pop cans and only because my daughter collects them for extra spending money. (And, yes, they are from the pop that I buy!) When school is in session, I buy paper plates and napkins (and run out regularly).
I think the famed Proverbs 31 woman strikes a good balance between extreme frugality and frivolity. She works hard and is resourceful, yet her merchandise is good -- not cheap. She's careful how she spends her money, yet she isn't stingy--she willingly gives to the poor. She doesn't clothe her children in rags. In fact, though she makes all of their clothes, they are sewn with rich and beautiful materials. She even dresses herself in expensive clothing. Her husband has a good job (it would seem), yet she doesn't loaf around and attend multiple dinner parties. She works hard to stretch his income as far as it will go and adds to it herself.
As always, a discussion of this woman can drive us to despair that we will never be like her or it can inspire us to pick one aspect of her character and improve ourselves in that area. Let us strive to strike that elusive balance between the extremes of frugality and frivolity!
Friday, September 25, 2009
I'll give you mine, then I'd love to hear yours for your own children!
1. Get dressed. I know most of you wouldn't put this on your list, but for a homeschooling mother, there are days when it is a real temptation to leave them in their "jammies" all day! I made it easier for them and for me, by folding all their playclothes into outfits and putting them in a drawer they could reach. When I tell them to get dressed on an "at home" day, they can dress themselves with no help from me.
3. Clear your own dishes. I figure if I plan and cook the meals, set the table most of the time and wash the dishes, the least my children can do is clear off the table. To prevent arguments, our rule is that each person takes their own dishes to the kitchen. Then one child clears the remaining dishes and the other clears and puts the food items away.
Yes, I admit, basic hygiene and eating with the resulting necessary cleanup feel like an accomplishment on some days! Now what about you? What's your "bare minimum" for chores for your children?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Here are some other links with similar or different systems. Hope you can find one that works for you!
- Product Review: Kids' Deck of Chores at Homemaker Barbi's blog
- Chore Packs - Teaching Our Children to Work at Women Living Well blog
- Age appropriate chores list at A Second Generation of Homeschooling (thanks for the tip, Anne Elliot!)
- Be an Example at Happy Housewife
- Raising Children Who Help Cheerfully at Generation Cedar
Monday, September 21, 2009
My children are like most children and have an aversion to anything that looks like work. I realized that in order to keep from doing everything for them for the rest of their lives, I had to get them used to their chores with some kind of habit-forming system. Here's what I came up with:
- I decided on the chores of which my children were capable and which would be most helpful to me. I bought several different colors of index cards and let them each pick their color. Jessica chose purple and Jeffery chose green.
- I wrote one chore on each of their cards. They each got a Make Bed chore, for example, so I wrote those words on a purple card and on a green card.
- I wanted the chore to be listed simply with as few words as possible, yet some of them needed explanation until they learned to do it effectively. If a chore needed explanation, I just listed the steps to it on the back of the card. For example, the "Clean Room" card might need a list like this: 1) Pick up dirty clothes. 2) Pick up toys. 3) Close dresser drawers. 4) Clean closet., etc.
- For my non-reader, I wrote the words and a picture of the chore under the words.
- I put their cards in a little basket that hangs on their bedroom door. This is their "mailbox" that has their "mission" in it. (Have to make it sound exciting, y'know!) When my daughter wakes up, she checks the mailbox and does her chores in order. Two of her last cards are "Wake up Jeffery" and "Help him start his chores".
- The last card is "Check with Mom". Then, I check to make sure the jobs are done and remind them to return their cards to the "mailbox" for the next day.
- A few of their chores are extras for which we pay commissions (thank you, Dave Ramsey!) Those cards have a little star on them so they remember that those cannot be skipped or they will not receive a commission for them.
I'd love to hear about your chore systems! Please leave me a comment or an e-mail about them!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Now for some recent links on one of my favorite topics--marriage:
- Laura of HeavenlyHomemakers.com is grateful for hers.
- Kelly of Generation Cedar talks about guarding and growing our marriages.
- I always like Michelle's Marriage Monday posts at She Looketh Well. Here's one on how to Be His Cheerleader and another on the Principle of Unity.
- Christian Frugal Mama is studying the book I mentioned above on her Wednesday Wifehood posts. The first two installments are here and here.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
He that hath knowledge spareth his words -Prov. 17:27"Yes, Lord," I countered, "but, he really needs to know about what he's doing wrong so we don't have more problems with this issue."
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles. -Prov. 21:23
"But, Lord, what about communication?" I think my voice had a bit of whine in it by now, which seemed familiar somehow (my children really do act like me?).
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. - Prov. 10:19
I was starting to get the point. But God wasn't done yet...
He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life:but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction. -Prov. 13:3
Destruction wasn't at all what I had in mind for our ! Could my tongue really have that much impact? In my heart, I knew that it could. In my humanness, my mind still echoed the question, "But what about me--my feelings in this matter? Should I really just be quiet?"
He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he. -Prov. 16:20
I left in in the Lord's hands, and I did feel happier! Especially when I found out later my husband's thinking on the issue. Yes, he was right, and I didn't have to eat humble pie! That time.
Monday, September 7, 2009
So often, we as wives forget the men who work so hard for us. Sometimes we complain because they work too much, or we complain that we can't work instead, or we compete with them to be on equal footing as "breadwinner". I firmly believe that it is in the heart and makeup of every man to be a provider for his family since the Garden of Eden. Yes, I know we women work just as hard, sometimes even to help provide the family income. However, I'm writing to wives, not husbands and wouldn't it be a little self-serving to tell you to honor yourself today? Leave that up to your husband! I have a challenge for all of us wives on this Labor Day holiday (if you live in the USA--and even if you don't, join us on this challenge!):
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.
- Today, thank your man for working so hard to provide for you and your children, if you have them.
- Today, do something to make your man's load a little lighter and spoil him as much as possible. Let him have the day off! (Except maybe to man the grill--we don't want to go too far here!)
- Today, let him know that you see his provision for you as a sacrifice of love instead of an annoyance.
- After today, don't forget to do the above things from time to time. You'll reap great rewards in your marriage!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
1. That we are able to start on our way before noon.
2. That we can travel safely.
3. That bathrooms will be plentiful on our route home.
4. That our children will catch up on all the sleep missed through the week (about 6 hours' worth).
5. That our children will be fascinated with the activities that bored them on the way there.
6. That my husband will be o.k. with cramming an 8-hour-trip into 12.
7. That my husband will realize that fast food on the road will last our children approximately 1.3678 hours.
8. That I will remember that this has been a vacation, and I am supposed to arrive home rested.
9. That we can unpack before midnight.
10. That my washing machine will not break from the strain of a week's worth of vacation laundry complete with water-logged, sand-filled outfits.
No, really, I'm serious!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
5:30 - My morning routine which includes getting Jeff off to work, devotions, workout and getting dressed
8:00 - Wake up Jessica and start her on her morning routine (more about this another time). Part of her routine is waking Jeffery and starting him on his routine and doing preschool with him. I help out where needed and do my work on the computer.
9:00 - Breakfast
9:30 - School Time: We try to fit in Bible, Math, Reading, English, Spelling and Handwriting before lunch with a few quick chore breaks.
12:00 - Lunch
12:30 - School Time: We do P.E., Heritage Studies or Science (one per semester), and our extra subject (Art, Music, Home Ec) after lunch. One day a week we do library and errands and another day we do piano lessons.
3:00 - Baths and quiet time/Snack
Kids get free time on the computer while I prepare supper and finish up chores.
6:00 - Supper
My evening routine which includes all those things you already know about to get ready for the next day and computer time if possible.
8:00 - Bedtime routine: kids get a story together and prayer, but they go to bed 15 minutes apart--youngest to oldest. I try to have time alone with each of them before bed.
9:00 - Kids in Bed/My free time/Time with Jeff
10:30 - Lights Out (I try really hard! :-)
benefits are to your homeschooling family. Unit studies are
in depth studies on a particular subject that are a fun
approach to learning. They can be based on literature,
social studies or science, and the other core subjects are
generally found interwoven into the studies with research
based hands-on projects. Some are short literature based
units intended for one semester or over the summer study
while others are complete 180 day curriculum. They may
include recipes that were suggested in a book or different
projects to enhance the study. Some are skeleton outlines
that you have to fill in as you go along while others are
completely organized and very user friendly. Some are
geared for boys and some for just girls while others are
intended for all of your children to enjoy learning together
and encompasses all learning styles and ages and both
genders. Some are independent, internet-based, research
curriculum. So, to answer the question, “Are they all
created equal?” The answer is NO! Let me show you what I
mean by sharing a few thoughts about the ones that we used.
Please understand that these are just my opinions and we
only did a few unit studies.
Before we get into the different styles of unit studies,
here are some reasons for you to consider using them:
1. Unit Studies are cost effective and planned out
for you saving a lot of headaches. Generally, they have a
teachers manual and workbooks, but sometimes they are just
2. They make the homeschooling day easier for the
mom with several different age levels to teach. After the
initial “together time” at the beginning of your school
day, you can assign different project to the children based
on their abilities and styles of learning.
3. Everyone is on the same page simplifying things
for mom. You aren't teaching several subjects at once. This
leaves more time to concentrate on one child with spelling
or Math while others are busy elsewhere working on assigned
projects in another part of the house.
4. Unit studies are time effective for the busy
homeschooling mom. After your initial studies together in
God's Word and other subjects assigned, the children are
generally done by noon compared to other school days when
they would have to sit hour after hour struggling with
boring busy work. Learning is engaged more with the unit
studies and that makes for a happier home school because it
is easier to speak the learning languages using the unit
studies. The mom knows what kind of project to assign
because she knows her child and knows what he or she is
capable of doing.
That said, let's take a look at the unit studies. There are
a lot of excellent character and role training based ones
that have been highly recommended by some of my friends.
For example, several of my friends who had girls liked the
Far above Rubies series and the American Girl series. We
used The Prairie Primer (geared for 3rd -6th grades) when
our oldest son was in 5th grade. It was very interesting,
hands-on, and went along with the Little House on the
Prairie book series. You can purchase the Primer for around
$40 plus the books that are about the same price for the
set. (Check CBD or Rainbow Resource Center
www.rainbowresource.com for the things you will need.
Rainbow Resource is a wonderful catalog that has well over
1300 pages. I highly recommend that you subscribe to their
Another 180 day curriculum unit study that we absolutely
loved was the A World of Adventures series. This series was
an absolute blast...and they have an e-mail loop that you
can join to answer your questions and interact as you go
along. Volume I, A World of Adventure, begins with creation
and works its way through the Renaissance and Reformation.
Volume II is called, A New World of Adventure, and covers
the founding of America through the American Revolution.
Volume III is called, Westward and Onward, and covers the
Westward expansion and beyond. You can check sample days out
by going to www.Learning-Adventures.org
Sometimes unit studies will cover only one subject. For
example, We used the Homeschool Huskies series which were
short, 8-12 week, hands-on unit studies for boys. (The one
for the girls was called Homeschool Ponies.) The cool thing
about these studies is that they included iron-on patches
that were earned as incentives as they went along. My
boys liked because the lessons are short and manageable.
Another unit study we bought but did not use was a Eye on
History, World War I, from Instructional Fair, an eyewitness
account of different events surrounding certain parts of
history. Short and interesting! Great for an upper middle
school – high school boy.
And finally, one last style of unit studies was the Amanda
Bennett series. We did not care for her style of material
presentation because it was just the skeleton outline and
you had to fill everything in yourself as you went along.
We found them to be difficult to follow without particular
guidelines how to utilize the studies. Perhaps it was the
difference in the way that we learned, but this style was
not the right one for us. Others really like her unit
studies. Every family is different in their approach to
I realize that I did not touch the TRISM unit studies,
KONOS, Weaver, or others that were literature based, like
the Further Up and Further In series, but there are
literally hundreds of unit studies and other curriculum out
there to choose from. It would take a week to review them
A bit of advice regarding choosing unit studies is to think
about what you are really wanting to accomplish before you
buy! If it seems overwhelming at first glance, it probably
will frustrate you all year. Let someone else buy it! If
you want to just see how your children respond to unit
studies, then choose a short literature based one to do over
the summer, like the C.S. Lewis series or something similar.
Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything that
is suggested. Pick and choose the activities that your
family will enjoy and be flexible! Whatever you do, remember
that you are in charge of your homeschool and if you do not
want to do a particular activity then you as the principal
and teacher have the executive privilege to scrap any idea
that you want in favor of something else! Your children will
not be harmed in the process. Mine certainly weren't!
Until next time, have a wonderful homeschool day!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
2. It is difficult to teach Math with a baby hanging on the back of your skirt.
3. Sometimes children learn traditional things in non-traditional ways. My son prefers taking his basketball hoop apart with his toy tools rather than throwing a basketball through the hoop.
4. My 7-year-old who plays "Ode to Joy" 20 times in a row is bored with "In the Hall of the Mountain King" while my 4-year-old who never sits still is still mesmerized by it after the 10th time.
5. My baby is scared of "In the Hall of the Moutain King" even though he doesn't understand the story line of Peer Gynt. (Music is a powerful communicator!)
6. Legos work better than Unifix cubes because they come in different sizes and are much more versatile. My 1-year-old uses his to teeth on (the big ones) while my 4-year-old builds a boat with his medium sized ones and my 7-year-old practices addition with the small ones.
7. I can not do traditional exercises in Physical Education and expect my kids to be on board. They hate arm twirls as much as I did in gym class. (Why did that surprise me?) Now we call them "games".
8. I can complete school before lunch time if we really focus.
9. Some days I can only complete 3 subjects before lunch time no matter how much I focus.
10. Packing for vacation during the first week of school is kind of like swimming the Atlantic and climbing Mount Everest at the same time.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Scheduling in the homeschool varies with each family and
circumstance. The purpose of this article is to help you
that homeschool to feel a little less guilty and more
relaxed in your educational adventures.
Let me begin by saying that some structure and organization
is essential to the successful homeschool, but you do not
have to feel bound to do things exactly like others in the
Christian and public schools. Homeschools are just that,
schools in your homes...and as scary as it may seem, you are
in charge of what goes on as the administrator and head
teacher. There are times that it is okay to have a
parent-teacher conference! It is okay to talk to
yourself....as long as you don't answer yourself, then that
is a real indication that you need a good long vacation!!!
In the early spring, before the previous school year ended,
we ordered the curriculum for the next school year...or at
least figured out what we were going to use. We also chose a
good record keeping software or inexpensive homeschool
planner and spent time setting up the yearly and weekly
outlines, school calendar, vacation times, doctor visits and
other appointments for the entire year. Time invested ahead
in planning is well worth it in the long run. I found that
by planning ahead, it saved me tons of work throughout the
school year. With a plan in hand, it kept us focused on what
we needed to learn and how to adapt our homeschool. By
having the written records of our field trips, books the
boys read, experiments they did, or cool stuff like that, we
were prepared when it came time for our yearly assessments.
We had already projected the next year's curriculum as we
went along, so it was not difficult to present the assessor
or the school district the information they needed before
the next school year began.
In our family, we did not have what you would call a tightly
structured schedule. Some families are run like a boarding
school, everyone up at 6:00 am and doing school by 8:00,
Lunch at 12 noon, and school dragging out to 3:00 pm beyond
the point of exhaustion for everyone! We did not follow the
prescribed schedule set down by people who did not know our
circumstances or our family schedule. My illnesses prevented
early schedules. Instead, we had a loose schedule and stayed
adaptable. We would “do school” when I got up. A lot of
times when the boys were younger, they would spend their
time in creative playing or reading, doing homework for the
co-op, listening to stories on cassettes, etc. until I got
up, then we would spend time cracking the books. Sometimes
I would give them some fun projects to work on. Either way,
we were often done by 1:00 pm, then I would be free to do
laundry and other tasks that had to be done. Adaptability
lent itself to more learning opportunities and to our
ultimate success of homeschooling.
Our schedule looked something like this:
Mondays were errand days. We counted them on our schedule as
library days. After we visited the local year-round flea
market, and grocery stores and other places on the list, we
ended our trips at the library. The boys researched and
checked out tall stacks of books and other learning
materials every week. By the time all of the shopping was
over and library trip was done we were all exhausted. We
headed home to get a late lunch, do chores, and get ready
for Daddy to come home.
Our Tuesday through Thursday schedules were typical school
days...if our days were ever typical! I tried to
concentrate on one subject at a time with each boy to help
them understand the concepts before I helped the other one
with their school work. Some subjects we studied together,
like social studies and science, and it made things a lot
easier once we were able to do that! There were times when
things got frustrating and we all needed a break. I would
call a recess time and they would run outside to clear the
cobwebs from their brains while I hung a load of laundry or
did whatever else that needed done.
Fridays were different because we went to homeschool co-ops
and the boys always looked forward to that break in the
schedule. We got up early, packed a snack, grabbed our
backpacks and headed out the door. The boys learned a lot of
subjects that I did not have the ability to teach them,
like geology, chemistry, sign language, and Spanish, etc. It
was a way to for me to connect with other moms and to give
the boys some socializing time. I found that time to be
especially helpful even though they were not of like faith.
We talked about our children and their struggles and shared
advice and encouragement with each other.
I know this thought may be a bit controversial, but... you
do not have to feel obligated to spend the exact amount of
time in school that others do. Take the typical school day
of 6 hours, then subtract the hours that are used for
recess, going to from one class to another and back again,
restroom breaks, snack time, parties, lunch breaks, assembly
time, busy work, homeroom time, audio-visual time, etc., you
can see that a homeschooler is getting the same amount of
instruction time that their counterparts are. Add it up and
see if I am not right. I hope this point alone has relieved
some of the guilt that some homeschooling mothers feel about
how much time is actually spent “doing school”.
You have to have a balance of school time, free time, and
activities / chore time. Choose what works best for your
family and allow for life to happen! Have a schedule as a
guideline, not as a taskmaster! Without a balance of free
time, an ultra structured schedule can be as devastating to
a child as much as no structure and all free time. A
balanced homeschool is a happy one! I have been there, done
that and I know it works!!!