Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan

Since I'll be driving home from my parents' tomorrow, I'm going to go ahead & post my menu plan tonight. We won't be home till tomorrow afternoon, so I don't have a plan for breakfast & lunch tomorrow.

Last week I made sourdough bread and still have bread in the freezer so this week I'm going to use my starter to attempt a sourdough muffin recipe (hence my switch from my normal schedule of muffins on Thurs).

My overall menu plan is:

Visit orgjunkie for more menus.

Our Week's Wrap-Up

We didn't do much "school" this week. Monday & Tuesday the girls were literally outside ALL DAY playing in the snow. And yes, I consider that much more important for 5 yr olds than doing history & reading lessons & such :) Wednesday we did a partial school day, but I honestly can't remember why it was only a partial day, I just know we didn't read any history this week LOL.

We also made time for tea parties a couple days this week.

Thursday we spent the morning packing & otherwise getting ready to leave for Mama & Papa' house. We got to their office in time for Papa to give the girls a tour of the Bindery, Press room, etc (Mama & Papa work at the Review & Herald Publishing Association). For our tea parties right now I'm reading out of a devotional book written by a good friend of mine & the girls were very interested in how Miss Vicki could have a REAL BOOK with a HARD COVER, so that reminded me that for the last 2 years I've been meaning to get Papa to take them on a tour of the R&H, they've grown up running around the office part of the building, visiting various of Mama & Papa's (and Mommy's) friends who work there, but had never been back to the bindery, press room & warehouse (well, when they were babies, we regularly took them to the postage scale in shipping to weigh them, but they don't remember that LOL). So, that was our educational experience for that day. Then Papa took them home with him while Mama & I ran over to the Children's Place outlet where we found winter coats (for next winter, though they decided they wanted to start wearing them now) for $12 & some other lovely bargains :)

Friday we visited some friends and just kind of hung out.

I came down w/ a stomach bug during the night Fri night, that wiped me out for Sabbath, but the girls had fun running around Harpers Ferry with Mama & Papa while I recovered.

Today, the girls spent a good part of the day doing "art" projects. Water colors, lots of tape, lots of paper, cut into tiny pieces, lots of ribbon . . . they had great fun LOL.

We head home in the morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gratituesday - Snow Day!

Yesterday we took a snow day! Sunday we got enough snow that the kids spent awhile out playing in it, and it was still there when we got up yesterday morning so after breakfast and such the kids wanted to go play in it so out the door they went. Around noon it started snowing again, Yay! More Snow! And yes, the kids were STILL OUT THERE! Around 1:15 I finally suggested they come in & eat some lunch so they came in for hot chocolate & sandwiches and as soon as they were done they WENT BACK OUTSIDE! DH came home around 4:30, kids were still out there. Soon after that I turned the outside lights on for them. And sometime after 6pm they finally called it a day & came in for supper (and more hot chocolate LOL). They were out there ALL DAY! They had a blast! They got a wonderful dose of fresh air (that's been abit lacking lately with our colder than normal (for here) temperatures, I can't blame them for not wanting to go out & play when it's in the single digits!

So . . . did school happen yesterday? Nope! Did the normal Monday chores happen yesterday? Nope, unless Mom did them. Do I think that's a bad thing? Nope! They got tons of fresh air & exercise (needless to say they slept well last night LOL). And they went ALL DAY LONG without once squabbling to the point that I heard them or had to referee (I can't swear they never did, but nothing very major since I peaked out on them regularly & can hear raised voices through the windows even when closed).

And today is shaping up to be another such day. I did sneak in a couple quick chores while they were in for lunch, and they came in on their own around noon saying they were cold and asking for a tea party instead of hot chocolate so we had a tea party, then ate lunch, and THEN they went back out. So perhaps it's abit colder today than yesterday? Or the cold is building up in their systems & they can't handle it as long? I don't know . . . We'll see if they last out there all afternoon.

I love that we have the flexibility to do this! And yes, while I think chores are important, I also think flexibility is important too. In the grand scheme of life the fact that the microwave door didn't get cleaned this week seems pretty minor compared to a great day outdoors playing happily together!

And so, today, I'm thankful once again for our lifestyle. I'm thankful that the kids can play outdoors all day w/o any scrambling to rearrange schedules. I'm thankful that such days don't mean missed work, with lost pay or taking vacation time for me. I'm thankful that we live somewhere that it's safe for the kids to play outside on their own (because I can tell you I'd have frozen solid LONG before they came in yesterday if I'd had to be out with them).

See more Gratituesday posts on Laura's blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009


This week is a short week, menu-wise, since the girls & I will be going to my parents this weekend (and dh will be left to fend for himself LOL), leaving Thurs afternoon, so that's when the menu stops.

First a quick rave from last week, we had Chocolate Cranberry Muffins for breakfast on "muffin day" and the girls LOVED them :) and they really aren't THAT unhealthy either!

Other menus for this week are here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What We Did This Week

We had a nice, uneventful week this week, History emphasis was on the writing of the constitution. After being anti-reading so far this month, A sat down this week & read all the necessary books to finish out her Jan. reading chart, silly kid. L finished hers as well, but has been working on it throughout the month instead of all in a 2 day period. So, a trip to pizza hut will have to happen in the near future.

I resorted to bribery of sorts (though really it IS a natural consequence) as far as the whining/tantrums over the phonics sheets goes, I was looking through some art options while I waited for them to do various independent parts of schooling & they asked when we could do art again. I told them I'd love to add in some art projects, music projects, etc but as long as we're having tantrums over "homework" (their name for the phonics sheets) we don't have time to add other things in, that at least led to one or 2 tantrum free (over school anyway) days this week.

For our "extra" (for the no-tantrum day) I pulled out the window planter set I won in a blog giveaway before Christmas. The seeds that come with it are sunflowers (not sure how fast those grow & didn't want to be contending w/ sunflower trees in the house before it got warm enough for transplanting outside), basil (which I had just started in a random pot a week or two ago) & a flower of some sort (zinnias?) which would be fine, but I'm hoping to do some serious seed starting this spring & so I'm abit stingy w/ my sun-lit window space until I see how much I use for seed starting. So . . . I pulled seeds out of the freezer instead (fingers crossed they actually grow, they're a couple years old but I THINK have been in the freezer the whole time) & let them each choose one then I did the 3rd. So we have spinach, lettuce & cilantro started (which should go nicely w/ the basil, parsley & chives I started a couple weeks ago).

In SS this week the girls were the only kids there for most of it. One of the teachers, who works w/ dh, had seen the thank-you notes I had the girls write to another co-worker for Christmas gifts, so that cued her in that they can at least semi-read (though actually they could've copied the thank-you notes last year & wouldn't have been able to read the Bible text but anyway . . ) so she asked if they wanted to read the Gracelink Bible text that went w/ the story she told them. They did well & the teachers all ooh'd & ahh'd so they got positive feedback LOL.

I also had to laugh, one day this week we were planning to eat at IHOP but got there & it was a long wait so dh suggested that we go to Chili's, right next door, instead. The girls had never been to, and to my knoweldge, never heard of Chili's before (I won't swear I didn't go sometime back when I was auditing and such but I don't remember for sure). But as soon as dh suggested we try it, A's concern was "isn't everything there spicy?" I thought that was rather good deductive reasoning (if it's called Chili's and chili peppers are spicy, it must have spicy food) for a 5 yr old.

The girls' play this week has included a couple "homebirths" LOL. They've also been dealing w/ "sibling rivalry" since, as they explained to to me, Jeanie (one of their dolls) doesn't like that the baby gets all the attention so she has been being mean to both the baby and big brother, so they have to watch her extra close.

Driving in the car this week the girls re-discovered the Eric B Hare story CDs and are thoroughly enjoying them again. I was watching an interview w/ the current "Uncle Dan & Aunt Carol" on 3ABN yesterday and realized we don't have any Your Story Hour CDs, tapes, etc. Need to look online & see if they're available for download. When the girls walked in while I was watching the interview, at first they didn't know who Uncle Dan & Aunt Sue/Carol (why they changed her name, I'll never know, especially since the interview yesterday indicated that the first 2 "Aunt Sues" were neither of them named Sue either! If they addressed why the current Carol had to use her real name instead of sticking w/ the Sue theme, it wasn't while I was watching) was, but then one of them, A I think, said, they say Uncle Dan & Aunt Sue on our Bible stories we listen to in the car (My Bible Friends CDs) so they at least have heard of them LOL.

Guess that's about it for this week. Next week will be a short week, as the girls & I are going to my parents' (and letting dh have a weekend to get caught up on work in peace) for the weekend. While we're there I'm hoping to get my Eric B Hare chapter books back from a friend who borrowed them (she said she'd give them to a mutual friend I'll be seeing while I'm down there, if she forgets, I'll raid my parents' bookshelf instead LOL). We're enjoying Anne of Green Gables as our current chapter book, but I think since they enjoy the short Eric B Hare stories, they might enjoy the chapter books as well, and would give us Sabbath chapter book reading.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Works-for-Me-Wednesday - Kids and Chores

A few conversations I've had with various people recently has led me to realize that some moms don't ever stop to think about what their kids can be capable of. And since chores are fresh in my mind after recently reading Managers of Their Chores and implementing a version of their system, I thought I'd take a couple minutes to give people some ideas of things that 5 (almost 6) year olds are capable of given the opportunity/encouragement/training.

First the disclaimer: Only you know YOUR kids. Don't turn them lose with a knife or other tools just because someone on the internet says THEIR 5 yr olds use them. Supervise, watch how they do, discuss safety procedures, and make final decisions based on your own children.

So, here is our current "chore chart". A couple other disclaimer type things, keep in mind that we are homeschoolers, I don't think my kids would have as many chores if they were away from home for 8+ hours a day in school &/or various extra-curriculars, but thanks to our lifestyle we spend a maximum of a couple of hours per day on "school" type stuff, we spread our chores out through the day, they work alongside me, and they also have plenty of time for independant, creative play. Also, our system is rather complicated because I have 2 kids who are the same age & at the same skill level. Rather than having whining about "why doesn't she have to unload the dishwasher" or "why does she get to feed the dog & I don't?" I opted to alternate days/weeks for most chores (laundry is the one that is currently all one kid, A has a fascination w/ laundry, L has no interest, I didn't see a reason to have L whining about having to do laundry AND A whining about not GETTING to do laundry just to keep things "fair").

Ok, so NOW here's the chore list:

Daily Morning:
  • Read Bible (1 verse per day at this point)/Pray
  • Get Dressed
  • Ask Mommy to Brush Hair (I put this one in because I am horrible about remembering to brush their hair, this gets it "scheduled" so that it happens regularly AND so that we're not scrambling to get it done when I suddenly notice it needs doing as we walk out the door)
  • Unload Dishwasher (alternate days, we had them working together on it, but they kept fighting, so now we're trying alternating. They can leave things they can't reach/don't know where goes in the dishwasher for me & they leave the sharp knives on the counter (or I pull them out in advance when I'm in the kitchen while they're doing it) for me to put on the magnetic knife bar. They know to hold knives pointing down & be careful with them)
  • Feed the dog, make sure she has water, let her out (& back in) to potty. (alternate days)
  • A helps sort & put laundry in the washer
  • Help prepare breakfast
  • Put their own dishes in the dishwasher after breakfast.
  • A helps hang the laundry (outside or in the bathroom) or (a few loads in the winter) put them in the dryer)
Daily at Lunchtime:
  • A sets table & helps prepare lunch if there's more to do once the table is set
  • L helps prepare lunch
  • L clears table
  • A helps clean up kitchen
Weekly after Lunch:
  • Monday- A cleans the microwave door & L cleans the dishwasher door
  • Tuesday - they work together to water plants (with mom's help to make sure they don't overwater)
  • Wednesday - they work together to gather small trash cans & put in the outside trash can and L dusts downstairs while A dusts upstairs
  • Thursday - Clean bathroom sink (alternate weeks), clean bathtub (alternate weeks), vacuum bathroom w/ rechargable stick vac (alternate weeks), mop bathroom with small microfiber mop (alternate weeks)
  • Friday - work together to clear all toys & trash from car, work together to make sure all outside toys are picked up and put away.
Evening Daily:
  • L sets table for supper and helps prepare supper if there's more to do after table is set
  • A helps prepare supper
  • A clears table
  • L helps slean up kitchen
  • Work together to pick up/put away any toys on main level
  • Work together to pick up/put away any toys upstairs
  • Brush teeth, go potty
  • Fri night L takes a bath (A either takes a bath Thurs night or a shower Fri morning, her choice)
  • Put away clean laundry: hang up their clothes (I put them on hangers, they put in closet), match socks, fold their pajamas, put all socks, underwear & their pajamas where they go.
  • Bedtime

Meal prep can include lots of things depending what we're having, including:
  • stirring things on the stove
  • chopping/slicing soft things with a knife (broccoli, olives, cucumbers . . .)
  • Putting things through the food processor or salad shooter
  • Tearing up lettuce for salad, etc.
  • We get big bags of frozen vegetables & such from Sams and don't have room for them in our upstairs freezer, once I've used however much we're using for that meal they can carry the bag back down & put it back in the basement deep freeze.
  • Cracking eggs (we always crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl & then pour into the pan or mixing bowl (w/ free range eggs this guards against the very rare egg w/ blood in it or similar, AND means it's pretty easy to fish out pieces of shell if an egg isn't cracked perfectly)
After meals, clearing the table involves:
  • Putting dirty dishes in sink or on counter next to sink
  • Putting anything that goes directly into the fridge away (water, milk, ketchup bottle, etc).
  • Putting other food on the counter for me to put into storage containers to put away
Helping to clean the kitchen generally involves putting dishes in the dishwasher.

We use vinegar, baking soda, etc. to clean most things so I don't have to worry about young children using dangerous chemicals.

Seeing their pride & excitement when they tackle a new chore is so fun to see. Also as we anticipate the arrival of a new brother or sister, they enjoy talking about how they will be able to teach & help the baby learn chores as she or he grows. They like knowing that as time progresses they will be able to do the "hard part" and pass the easier parts on to their younger sibling (ie. they will put the high up dishes away and "the baby" will put the silverware away when it's time to unload the dishwasher).

Involving kids of all ages in chores works for me on many levels. It teaches them valuable skills and habits, it gives them a sense of pride in accomplishment. AND it helps me have more time to play games, read stories and otherwise do "fun stuff" with my kids.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gratituesday - Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit

I keep a running wish list of books on It is mostly either religious books for me, homesteading/homemaking type books for me, and all sorts of educational books for the kids. Whenever I "need" to order something from I go through my wish list and if the same seller has books off the wishlist (at reasonable prices) I go ahead & get them and combine shipping. Many of the books I want are in the $1 range but if I order each individually the end up being close to $5 (I think shipping on one book is $3.85). BUT if I order them when I'm ordering something else the per-book shipping for each additional book from that shipper drops to $1.85 (or something in that range). Not a huge difference, but every little bit helps (Amazon, incidentally does NOT do this with their used books, which annoys me to no end!). Anyway . . .

Awhile back I was ordering something & going through my wish list & one of the things on my wish list is just kind of a general "books by Elizabeth George" category. So, as I usually do, I searched the seller's list for her name. Weeded out the OTHER Elizabeth George (there are 2 popular authors named Elizabeth George. One (the one who I was searching for writes Christian books (A Woman After God's Own Heart is probably her most well known), the other writes mysteries). And started looking at what was there. One of the books was, Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit and since that is a verse that I've felt strongly speaking to me in the last year or so, I ordered the book. I didn't realize until it came, that it's a Bible Study guide for the book of 1 Peter. Since at the time I was using a "read the Bible in the year" plan for my devotions, so I set it aside for this year. I'm now about halfway through, I am LOVING Elizabeth George's Bible Study guides (& have since ordered several more so that I can continue using them through the year). If I had realized, prior to ordering Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit, that it was a study guide rather than just a book to read through, I probably would have skipped it, so today I am thankful that I didn't realize this. I'm thankful that God led me to order this book that has been such a blessing to me and that I anticipate the others in the series will continue to be a blessing as I go through them later in the year.

Gratituesday can be found here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Nothing like procrastinating huh? But technically it's still Monday for another 40 minutes (longer in other parts of the country LOL). I actually DID make a menu plan this week, just forgot to post it earlier today. So now it's late & I'm tired, so instead of babbling on I'll just get on with it . . .

To see more menus this week, go here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This Week's Wrap-Up

We had a good week. One of the history books I started reading, Emma's Journal, was just abit too advanced for the girls to be truly interested, so we read part of it but didn't finish it. And I flaked out & forgot to take the book on tape (that was going to be our history "reading" for Fri) w/ us when we left to run errands, but oh well . . .

Phonics continues to be a struggle. But reading is going well. I was especially proud of A one day this week when the new words in that day's reading (she's chosen to read McGuffey's Primer during reading time, L chose the SDA readers, both series follow a somewhat phonetic/somewhat sight word approach that adds a few new words each days and then repeats those words to make sure the kids learn them) were words that I don't remember us coming across before that don't follow typical rules of phonics. One was door (up to this point oo has made either the sound in zoo or the sound in book) and I think the other was roll, I know it was another long O that wasn't phonetically a long o). In both cases she figured out the word on her own based on context. I'm also noticing L is picking up speed as she reads, having to think less about each word.

The copywork book we're currently using for our Bible time includes copying rather long passages (2-3 verses, which is alot for the girls at this age) and then has a short "devotion" on the verses. The copywork is done in the format of 2-3 words per line so that it takes several pages to copy out the whole verse, so I opted to have them copy one page per day & just re-read the same verse/devotion each day that we're copying a part of that verse. An added benefit is that it gives them time to really digest the meaning of the verse instead of moving on after talking about it once, so this has also been a good reminder to me to slow down even as we move on to other Bible options when this one is done.

The girls are enjoying spending more time helping me in the kitchen these days too. We made choplets (a vegetarian "meat" patty that comes in a can, then you bread & fry it (or can do other things w/ it, but that's how we like it) for supper the other night and pretty much all Daddy had to do was turn the stove on, put oil in the pan, and give a little direction. They dipped the choplets in the egg & flour, put them in the pan, turned them when Daddy said to . . . they were quite proud of themselves :) We also had a couple different recipes this week that called for broccoli that I wanted cut into smaller pieces than what comes in a pkt of frozen florets, so they each got a turn at chopping broccoli this week (A struggled abit since the broccoli had sat out some to thaw but was still semi-frozen, L ended up chopping some that we'd had plain for supper the night before so it was nice & soft, easy to chop), they were very proud to be able to use a sharp knife :)

The 3-6" of snow we were supposed to get yesterday never materialized but we did enough (maybe an inch?) w/ some ice on top that Daddy took them out sledding this morning. They had a BLAST! Determined that the hill in our front yard works well for the girls to sled on their own, but as the snow started to melt it got not slippery, so then they tried out the back yard, it is apparently very slippery!! A supervision-required hill at this age, but they had great fun on it till someone accidently ran into Daddy's leg as he was trying to keep them from landing in the creek (that's at the bottom of the hill LOL) and Daddy needed to come in. They were able to keep having fun out there for a little while with L pulling A down the not-so-steep, but too melted to really sled down, front hill on the toboggan like (plastic) sled that has a long enough rope to pull someone on it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some Word Pictures for a Snowy Sabbath

Word Pictures because I didn't want to risk "ruining the moment" by finding/using a camera. . .

First, the picture that greets me most mornings now, I hope it continues:

Starting last fall I'd suggested, w/ varying success, that the girls spend a couple minutes praying each morning when they woke up. It generally took a reminder from me for it to happen though. And then, once they got their own Bibles for Christmas, I suggested that they could also read one verse (they still struggle over each word, I don't want this to be a burden, but rather a start of a life-long habit) out of the Bible each morning as well. And I included this activity in the new chore system we're using, and THAT seems to have finally gotten them both at least started into the habit. But apparently A still struggles over some of the words more than L does (I don't notice this discrepancy when reading with them other times, but whatever . . . it may just be A gets frustrated too quickly & would rather have L tell her what the harder words are, but as long as they're both happy, I don't care, this isn't reading class afterall!), so the last few mornings as I've walked by their door on my way to the bathroom (yes, I hate mornings & don't get up until I have to (which means I hear them up)) I've seen the 2 of them together on A's bed, heads hunched together over the Bible!! I LOVE seeing that in the morning, and sometime might have to risk snapping a picture to remember it by :)

And now, abit about our morning. We woke up to snow-covered driveway/road & more snow coming down & forecast saying snow would continue all day, so we decided to play it safe & stay home, with the promise to the girls that we'd have Sabbath School at home. As it is, there's been very little snow & we would've been fine, but oh well. . .

And so this morning A & L had Sabbath School for us. We sang songs, and then I read them the Gracelink story that would've been the first part of the program if we'd been there. And then they told us the My Bible First lesson story. It was the story of the Good Samaritan and they told it quite well :) It was a pretty good little Sabbath school class (I also pulled out a craft & we did the first part of it, now we're letting the glue dry before we do the next part, and watching Bugtime Adventures (that the girls love!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chore Charts

As I mentioned earlier, we started a new "chore chart" system last Friday. Despite being smack dab in the middle of A's "being 5 1/2", it's going pretty well. I still sometimes have to remind them to actually move through the items in their badge holder (they finish one thing & then run off to play) and we still have meltdowns (mainly from A) over the couple chores she doesn't like to do, but on the other hand, on Monday she asked me "can we add laundry to my chores?" so it all evens out LOL. I'm still trying to decide if her willingness to help with laundry should get her out of unloading the dishwasher (the chore most likely to cause meltdowns) but dishwasher is an alternating chore (A does it one day, L does it the next) and I know A would object if I were to drop dishwasher altogether & make laundry alternating, but requiring L to do the dishwasher & not A doesn't seem fair somehow either . . . so I don't know. I'm giving it abit longer to see if A gets over the dislike of it (there was a time when she liked doing it & L objected, sigh . . .). And of course, they already know that we'll be doing some changing around of chores once the baby gets here, so if I decide that dishwasher is more hassle than it's worth I can always drop it from the mix when we do that switch around.

A was quite proud of herself to prove this week that, w/ the help of a stool, she can reach to get the clothes OUT of the washer. So now pouring liquids (which, if I get my butt in gear & make up some more powder detergent, would only be vinegar & that doesn't HAVE to go in any load except the wipes/towels, though I generally use it in all loads) & carrying the laundry basket back upstairs (not sure of a way around that one, though the girls working together can carry it around outside, I think . . . ) is the only part of laundry she can't do. She SOO wants to be able to do it completely on her own :)

And just because nothing can happen around here w/o whining, this afternoon I gave A extra chores (as consequences for telling me she wouldn't do something I'd asked her to do) and immediately heard "that's not FAIR!! What do *I* get to do?" from L, sigh . . . so we spent the last while washing windows (inside, way too cold outside), wiping down baseboards, etc. at their request (or demand, or something . . . ). Strange children.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I figured a new year was a good time to get back to posting menu plans (I HAVE continued to menu plan (most weeks) just haven't been posting them because I've been lazy or something . . .).

So, here is this week's menu. Although dh just informed me that he'll be working later some nights this week so those nights we might mix things up & make things that the girls & I like but he doesn't.

See more Menu Plans here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This Week's Wrap-Up

This has been a rough week for A. I think she's just running late hitting the "5 1/2 angst" that L started into a few months ago. And much as I'm not enjoying it AGAIN, I'm thankful they staggered it, for the most part LOL. Most of A's angst centers around not wanting to do the phonics worksheets. And while, I would have been more than happy to not start learning reading for a good long time, it seems overall counter-productive to just drop things when they're doing so well, just because we have FINALLY hit a point in the phonics worksheets where she has to take a couple seconds and THINK instead of breezing through it in no time flat. If she were truely struggling, I would be open to working with her on a way to change things up. And I DID decrease from 2 pages per day to one. But in reality, it takes her 5-10 min (at most) to do the worksheet when she finally does it. Several days this week it took her over an hour of screaming to actually DO the worksheet however, sigh . . . Other meltdowns have centered around doing chores and, well . . . pretty much everything.

To make things more challenging, whereas L does lots of yelling and screaming and such, A is much more inclined to lash out physically, hitting, throwing things, etc. So it's been a fun week . . . NOT!

Interestingly enough the thing that "snapped her out of it" yesterday was, of all things, doing chores LOL. As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been reading Manager of Their Chores from I decided to go ahead & impliment the system on Friday, and had explained it to them, w/ the understanding that we would start using it at lunchtime (having them help w/ lunch prep) that day. THEN, A had her huge meltdown over doing homework. Quite frankly, if I hadn't already told them when we would start there's no way I would have even considered starting a new chore system right then. A was still on the sofa refusing to talk to me, though the screaming had at least decreased to a non-ear-splitting level by then. But since we'd already talked about it & I knew that they had been excited to try it out (and I was guessing L still was) I decided to give it a try. So, I told L to go get her chore "badge" (the basis of this system is to use little clip-on plastic envelopes (like nametags are put in at conventions & such) and put cards, one chore per card, for that part of the day in the envelope so they can keep their "list" with them and just move the finished ones to the back, for lack of a better word, I called the plastic thingy a "badge") so we could start getting ready to lunch. When I said that, A got quiet, so I asked if she wanted to do her chores too, she somewhat grudgingly said "I guess" and when I asked if that meant she was ready to talk, and she climbed up onto my lap to talk w/o any more trouble. Sheproceeded to do chores along with us and overall be cooperative the rest of the day, even including cleaning out the car, which I had decided would be a good weekly chore (girls are bad (and so is mommy) about leaving stuff in the car when we get home & then we get ready to go on a trip or something & the car has to be "unloaded" before we can load it. ANY time we've done this in the past, it's included much complaining on the kids' part (and all I ask them to do is carry their own toys in & put them away). Yesterday they even helped me carry in the non-toy stuff, and took stuff to the trashcan & such! All w/o complaining!! (I, on the other hand, was beyond exhausted when it was all done LOL).

Anyway . . . other than all that, we're continuing to enjoy learning about the American Revolution. As already mentioned, the Felicity books on tape were a big hit.

We used our December Book-It coupons this week, so I'm hopeful that the incentive of a new book chart will encourage A to get back into reading. She continues to do well, but seems to have lost her "motivation" and I hate to have her lose the momentum now.

A continues to enjoy knitting. She's doing better, though she still seems to add a stitch every couple of rows (not sure what she's doing, sometimes I can tell she's wrapped the yarn around an extra time, but other times they all look like "real" stitches, so I'm not sure how she's managing that, shrug. She's making progress and is happy though (and IS getting better) so I'm not going to stress about the lack of perfection as long as she isn't. She isn't going to have enough yarn (w/ what came in the kit) to have a scarf, which is her goal, so we stopped at AC Moore this week and she chose blue as a 4th color to go with the red yellow & green. She continues to excitedly talk about all the other things she wants to knit and all the people she's going to teach to knit "once I'm good enough" :)

L is enjoying her weaving thingy too. The bag of loops she got for Christmas only lasted for 2 potholders (a LOT of the loops were too short, sigh). When I went to get more AC Moore was out & all I could find at Walmart was nylon (or something, NOT cotton or wool LOL) loops. I went ahead & got them, but figured they wouldn't work well for a potholder (I was afraid whatever the fabric is, it would MELT w/ heat LOL) so I suggested she make a purse. She finished the 2nd side of it yesterday, so now I need to find some ribbon and sew it into a purse for her LOL. And then I'm back to figuring out what kind of loops to get. Based on what I've found so far, I think even w/ only being able to use half of them, the AC Moore packs (especially w/ a 40% or 50% coupon) are still the best bet. I did find instructions online for making your own but by the time we bought a bunch of different colors of t-shirt knit (or t-shirts) and then the time of cutting them out, I'm not sure it would be cost effective. I'm toying w/ the idea of "building" a small loom (seems like just nails in a sq of wood would work? anyone think of a reason it wouldn't?) so she can use the "too small" loops and make coasters that way . . .

We took down the Christmas stuff on Thurs, though dh is working non-stop (year-end & all) so the boxes are still piled about the house waiting for him to carry them up to storage for me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Difference a Couple Hundred Years Can Make . . .

I probably mentioned a month or so ago that we have entered the world of American Girl Books. We've now read all 6 Kaya books and are more than halfway through the six Felicity books. When I went online to reserve the Felicity books from the library I was thrilled to see that they also had the whole set of Felicity books on tape. I originally got them figuring the girls could listen to them in the car. But the downside of tapes is it's quite difficult to figure out where to start if we've read a couple chapters at home already. So the girls have just been listening to whole books here at home. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to hear them exclaim "this is so much better than TV!!!"

But anyway . . . the point of this post, is how intresting I find the diference in what was & wasn't considered age appropriate 200+ years ago (Felicity is set at the beginning of the American Revolution, so 1770s, Kaya was set earlier then that, but I think still in the 1700s).

At age 9, almost 10. A doll is still considered an appropriate gift for Felicity. Likewise Kaya (age is never stated in the Kaya books, but I THINK all the AG books are assumed to be around age 10) continues to play with homemade dolls and create and play with "dollhouse" type stuff she creates out of sticks & such. Felicity enjoys playing with a wood Noah's Ark set along with her younger brother & sister (age 6 & 3). Felicity's grandfather brings a guitar & her teacher comments that "when you're old enough to learn to play . . ." implying that age 10 is too young to seriously study a musical instrument. On the other hand the cooking, cleaning, babysitting (siblings & cousins, etc) and other chores entrusted to these girls are certainly greater than is the norm in today's society.

I just finished reading a set of books called "Mangers of Their Homes" and "Managers of Their Chores" (both available from and while overall I found them informative & useful books (though MOTH is written more toward large families, I found much didn't apply to our "small" family of 2 (soon to be 3) children) one thing I had a hard time with in MOTC was a thread running through the whole book that criticized the theory of "let children be children" and implied this was in direct conflict w/ their belief that "children must be taught to be responsible adults". I kept feeling, every time I read this idea, that these 2 are not mutually exclusive. That children DO need to be CHILDREN (and not miniature teenagers) but they also need to learn responsibility & to have an active part in the household. Listening to Felicity & reflecting on the differences of children back then, cements. I believe children should be allowed time to be children AND expected to do chores. And that is one of many reasons we have chosen to homeschool, because homeschooling allows us the time for both. It's also a reason I don't feel it's a good idea for children to be involved in multiple classes, clubs and other "structured activities". Time is, in my opinion, better used letting children play. I thought it was sad to read in the above books that "older children won't have time for art projects" (though I'm still abit unclear on WHY that is, since, my children seem to do as many or more chores than are listed for children their age in the example. I'm just not following how, in a homeschool environment, school needs to take the HOURS that it is represented as taking in the sample schedules, especially if "school" doesn't include extras like art & cooking).

So, those are my musings for today. Perhaps something we could learn from previous eras is to let our children be children, not encouraging them to grow up so fast, while still expecting them to do chores and help with the household.