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Little House In The Big Woods Adventure: Week by Week Life Skills Lessons

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Here are our Lesson Plans For Life Skills

This page contains our lesson plans for a few different areas that I have included with our ‘Life Skills’. You will find lessons on cooking, cleaning, and organization as well as bible memory work and character training. All of these will go together to help raise our children into the responsible and caring citizens of tomorrow.

On weeks where there are several activities listed just choose a couple that interest you the most to work on.

We will be focusing on OBEDIENCE this unit. If you don’t have the book we used you can go HERE and download a lesson plan guide to use in your home.

Tip: If you want to go to a certain week/chapter or subject simply push the ‘ctrl’ and the ‘F’ button down together and a small bar will pop up. Type in the week number or chapter number you want and it will take you to it.


Week 1: Chapters 1 & 2

1. Research chores for Pioneer Children

Check out the 2nd video for some Pioneer skills you can learn.

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • How do their chores differ from yours?
  • What was Ma’s chore schedule? Do this activity to test your memory:

Ma’s Chore Schedule Activity Week 1

  • Little ones can use Ma’s chore schedule to learn the days of the week.

 Pioneer chores vs. Modern chores.

Laura was 4 years old when this book took place. How did her chores/responsibilities compare to yours? What chores can you help with around the house?

Watch this video of kids doing farm chores.

 

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

Arise, Shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. — Isaiah 60:1

  • Making the Bed
    • We should get in the habit of making our beds every day because it helps us get a great start for a productive day!

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Six Ways to be Considerate to Adults’ p. 22 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘Uncommon Courtesy is considering the needs and feelings of others.’ p. 12 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • Laura interrupted Mary in the story. Was this wrong?
  • Discuss how important it is not to interrupt others and how it might make others feel when we interrupt them. (It can make others feel like you don’t think what they have to say is important or that you feel you are better than they are when you interrupt them.)
  • Come up with a way for children to let you know that they need to tell you something without interrupting. (They can gently place their hand on your hand or arm and wait until you finish.)

 

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • He who answers before listening – that is his folly and shame. –– Proverbs 18:13 
  • Older kids can check out this Doodle Page via Verse Doodles.

5. Fun Activities

  • Plan a meal where you can use cracklings. They can be put into cornbread (or hoe cakes) for flavoring. You could substitute chopped bacon if cracklings are not available.
  • Bake bread see Salt-Rising Bread p. 75 in The Little House Cookbook
  • Bake cookies
  • Make butter. Click HERE for a recipe or watch the video below.

  • Write out the steps for making butter.
  • How does your butter compare to store bought butter?
  • See if you can get or borrow a sewing kit. Start practicing the sewing skills listed on pages 6-11 of My Little House Sewing Book.

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery which is a skill that has been around for thousands of years.

    • Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field and take me some venison. — Genesis 27:3
    • You will need a good book or DVD on archery.
    • You will also need a properly sized bow and arrows for practice.
    • Don’t forget a target and a backstop.
    • Learn the parts of the bow and what they do.
    • Learn the parts of an arrow and what they do.
    • Ask an adult to show you how to safely shoot your bow.
  • Learn the skill of baking homemade nutritious foods from scratch.

    • …It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God — Luke 4:4
    • You will need a good cook book.
    • Start with simple recipes.
    • Make sure you have all of the ingredients before you start.
    • Read through the entire recipe before you start.
    • Ask an adult to show you how to work the oven safely.
    • Start a recipe collection.

Week 2: Chapters 3 & 4

1. Research Pioneer food preservation.

  • How do the different food preservation methods keep us from getting sick?
  • Watch the video:

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • Name 3 methods of preserving food that we still use today.

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine… for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. — Psalm 50:10

  • Taking Care of Your Pets
    • This video is about taking care of a dog but many of the responsibilities will be the same for other pets.

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Make Time For Courtesy.’ p. 14 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘Four Words to the Wise.’ p. 18 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • Discuss how important it is to use our ‘Please and Thank You’s’.

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’ — Proverbs 26: 18-19
    • Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control. — Proverbs 25:28

5. Fun Activities

  • Research how to dry food.

  • Discuss what you learned
  • Bonus points if you actually try it and write about what method you used and how everything tastes.
  • Make a needle book like the one Aunt Eliza gave to Ma using the instructions on pages 12-15 of My Little House Sewing Book.

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery

  • Learn about baking


Week 3: Chapters 5, 6, & 7

1. Research Pioneer Children’s School Lunch

  • Check out this link HERE for more information.
  • Discuss what you learned.
  • How does this compare to your normal lunch?

Watch this fun video about school lunches:

Check out these interesting ways to use Maple Syrup:

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

For God is not the author of confusion, but peace… Let all things be done decently and in order.  — 1 Corinthians 14:33,40

God wants us to do a good job every time we do something no matter how little or how big of a task it is.

  • Setting the table
    • It is important to set the table properly each time so each person has what they need for their meal.

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Six Table Manners.’ p. 24 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘Seven Rules for Going to Church.’ p. 30 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • Practice good table manners

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. — Proverbs 13:20
    • He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it. — Proverbs 11: 27

5. Fun Activities

What is a bonus benefit of the clove apple?

  • Make pancakes and use real maple syrup.

  • Discuss what you learned.

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery

  • Learn about baking


Week 4: Chapters 8 & 9

1. Research a Pioneer Laundry Day

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • How is this different from the way you wash clothes?

Watch this video about soap making.

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • Why did they keep the kids away?

Other:

  • Springtime was when the gardens are planted. Click HERE to learn more about pioneer gardens.

Here is a fun video about a pioneer dance which may be similar to the one described in Chapter 8.

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

Sin can pile up in our hearts just like dirty clothes can pile up in our rooms. We need to make to sure to get our hearts washed and our clothes washed on a regular basis.

  • Check out this Sorting Laundry Activity
  • Use this Sequencing Worksheet to make a chart showing the laundry cycle from sorting, to washing, to drying, to folding and putting away, and clean up.
  • Check out this video about the benefits of hanging your clothes out on the line:

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Six Manners of Speech.’ p. 16 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘Four Awkward Things That Happen To Everyone.’ p. 35 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • The girls were arguing in Chapter 8 which was Foolish.
  • Look up the meaning of foolish.
  • Read Proverbs 22:15.

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend- deserts him. — Proverbs 19:4
    • He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done. — Proverbs 19:17

5. Fun Activities

  • Try out some rag curls. They use paper towels in this video.

  • Make your own soap

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery

  • Learn about baking


Week 5: Chapters 10 & 11

1. Research Beekeeping

Here is a short video to get you started.

  • Discuss what you learned.

Watch this video about Pioneer gardening:

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • Name 3 vegetables that were in the pioneer garden.

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: without me ye can do nothing.— John 15:5

Weeds can hinder the growth of plants just like sin can keep us from growing in the way the Lord wants us to grow.

  • Weed the Garden

Here’s a fun little video for kids:

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Phone Manners.’ p. 26 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘How to Take a Phone Message.’ p. 28 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • How does having a foolish child affect the parents?
  • Read Proverbs 17:21, 17:25, and 19:13

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. — Proverbs 13:1
    • The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. — Proverbs 12:22

5. Fun Activities

  • Grow a sunflower in a pot.

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery

  • Learn about baking


Week 6: Chapters 12 & 13

1. Research Pioneer Quilting

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • Where did they get the material for making quilts?
  • Do you have any quilts in your home?

Quilts were used to keep warm in the winter. Check out these articles to learn about how the pioneers prepared for winter:

2. Ways to help around the house like Laura

  • Wash dishes
    •  When you are washing dishes you need to keep in mind how God washes us clean and do a good job to get them sparkling clean.

3. Character/Manners

– Read ‘Eight Rules for Traveling in the Car.’ p. 32 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

– Read ‘Sometimes, Being “Rude” Is the Rule.’ p. 36 in Uncommon Courtesy For Kids: A Training Manual For Everyone

  • Laura tried to please her father by being obedient.
  • Look up obedient in the dictionary.
  • Read Exodus 20:12.

4. Memory Verse

  • Work on memorizing a verse during the week for a special prize.
    • Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam: so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. — Proverbs 17: 14
    • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:17

5. Fun Activities

  • Find some fun ideas for your Gold Rush Party
  • Look up some fun recipes for your Gold Rush Party
  • Make some decorations for your Gold Rush Party
  • Check out the fun quilting ideas at Oriental TradingYou might also find some party ideas there!

melissa-and-doug-sup---/sup-flower-fleece-quilt

Watch this video:

6. Bonus Skills — Choose one or two to work on

  • Practice these until you finish this unit study and then we will move on to another new skill.
  • Memorize the books of the Bible:

  • Learn about archery

  • Learn about baking

 


Week 7: Finishing Up

Be sure to continue practicing your manners at home and away from home.

1. Research Maple Syrup as an alternative natural sweetener

  • Discuss what you learned.

2. Research the history of Johnny Cakes

  • Watch this video:

  • What are two other names these are known by?
  • Bonus points for making up a batch of these today! Here is a recipe.

Check out these Pioneer recipes that are still around today:

3. Learn about the Sabbath Day.

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • How can you observe the Sabbath Day in your home?

Bonus Lesson/Activities:

  • Make some Pioneer Taffy.
  • Check out this video about preparing for a Pioneer Trek. (Mormon Pioneer Trek Preparation Demo)

  • Learn how to clean a gun, with your parent’s permission!
  • Look up at least two Bible verses about Gold, choose one to memorize.
  • Research Pioneer Fashion

Here is one about Amish clothing which is similar to the pioneer clothing:

  • Discuss what you learned.
  • How do these differ from our clothing today?

 

**BE SURE TO SAVE A FEW SAMPLES OF YOUR WORK FOR YOUR  

PORTFOLIO!  TAKE PICTURES OF BIG PROJECTS!

 

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Loop Scheduling Made Simple With An Easy DIY Post It Note Loop Schedule

**Although I try to provide as many FREE resources as possible this post may contain affiliate links alt no extra cost to you. We may earn a small commission, if a purchase is made through these links, which helps to support our blog and our family. Thank you!

Instructions for the Easy DIY Post It Note Loop Schedule at the end of the post.

Many of us have started back to school and some of us started and then quit…errr… well, maybe I’m the only one that did that but I am happy to say that we are well on our way to getting back on track. The big project I have been working on is finished (YAYYYYY!!!!) and I am hoping it will be ready to post this weekend so keep an eye out for it.

In preparation of our new school year I pulled out our old Loop Schedule so I could change it out for this year. What a better time to show you how I do it?

Last year one of the sanity savers I used was this Loop Schedule. You may have heard of Loop Scheduling and I thought it was something new but actually it was something I had already been doing and you probably have too!

I always start the year out with all kinds of fun activities, games, and ideas for us to work on. Before our Loop Schedule I was always trying to make sure we got the ‘meaty’ subjects like Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science finished before we moved on to anything else. If we didn’t get those areas completed we would just not do the other areas.

(These links will update soon and take you to our first Kirby’s Kids Academic Adventure!)

I always felt like we weren’t getting everything done that I wanted to get done. Our days got so BORING! We would be doing the same things over and over and never had time for the fun activities that I had planned for us to do. There’s only so much time in the day so what is an overwhelmed Momma to do? Continue reading Loop Scheduling Made Simple With An Easy DIY Post It Note Loop Schedule

Cozi Back To School 2018 Survey Results are in!

**This post does contain affiliate links at no charge to you which help to support my blog.

Recently my favorite online calendar service, Cozi, surveyed all the parents who use the Cozi Family Organizer, to find out what they’re doing to prepare, looking forward to most, and planning to buy this school year. Check out the infograph down below.

  • 47% of parents say getting their family back on routine is their top priority, followed by organizing all the new events and activities (38%)
  • 25% of parents buying something new for back to school this year say it will be a computer
  • The #1 thing they’ll miss is time with family, followed by the relaxed summer schedule

I know I love Cozi and it helps keep this crazy Momma on track. Try the Cozi Family Organizer today. It’s FREE! I know you’ll love it.

Cozi-back-to-school-graphic..png

Simplify Your Life: Step 6 Set Up Routines

**This post may contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

This post is part of a multi-section post in honor of National Simplify Your Life week which is the first week of August. The original post wasn’t as short and simple as I had wanted it to be so I decided to break it down into a few shorter posts.

6. Set Up Routines

This goes without saying for us here and maybe I should have included it in Step 5 but I  felt it deserved its own post. Simple routines for morning, afternoon, and evenings have been the key to making life so much easier and simpler for us. Everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them and when.

We also have a routine for bill paying, laundry, and our homeschool. The important to remember is that you probably don’t need all of these. Focus on what you need to accomplish and set up a routine. Work on that one routine to simplify it and make it as efficient as possible. This make take a little time but it is so worth it.

Having a hard time getting everyone out the door in the morning? Maybe you should make a routine for the night before. It could include everyone placing their bookbags, briefcases, bags, and things they need at the door or other designated location. Many times our lives are stressful and chaotic because we don’t put a lot of thought into our plans but routines can change that.

Check out Make Over Your Mornings LIVE for some great ideas!

You can read more about all of our routines here. Remember that you need to base your routines around your life and not based on other’s. Routines have been proven to help make people more successful! Check out these books here and here for more ideas!

You can also check out Make Over Your Evenings for more tips on evening routines.

Meal Planning

Part of your routines can include Meal Planning.

This is an absolute necessity in our house. Meal planning is really not as difficult as it may seem and it can be done in so many different ways. There are several posts and article written about meal planning that you can find by searching with Google. There are services and courses you can sign up for too.

You can also check for books on the topic at your local library. A couple of my favorite books are ‘Complete 30 days meal plan: Meal planning ideas including weight loss resources and weight loss recipes‘ and ‘Meal Planning on a Budget: Save Money on Groceries, Master Meal Prep, & Reduce Food Waste to Reach Financial Freedom’I also like this little meal planning pad I found on Amazon, it looks so simple!

Are you tired of spending too much on groceries? Check out Grocery University to learn everything you need to know about making the best of your grocery budget.

Not only can meal planning make your life simpler it can also save you money! You can read more about how we meal plan here and check out some of our previous meal plans here.

Click here to continue to Step 7.

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Simplify Your Life: Step 3 Learn To Say ‘NO’ Without Feeling Guilty

**This post may contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

This post is part of a multi-section post in honor of National Simplify Your Life week which is the first week of August. The original post wasn’t as short and simple as I had wanted it to be so I decided to break it down into a few shorter posts.

3. Learn to say ‘NO’ without feeling guilty

I am so guilty of this! Right now I am sitting here with two laptops open, a huge TO-Do list, and a pile of notes that I’m taking care of. Not to mention that I have five kids running around who also need my attention, laundry to finish, and there will be lunch and dinner to make at some point. Many of these items on my To-Do list are not personal items for myself but things I’ve told others I’d help them with.

Why do I let myself do that? I am just a genuinely helpful person and I don’t seem to be able to say ‘NO’ when others ask for my help. This is something I really need to work on if I am ever going to have any time for myself and my family.

So many times we let ourselves get overwhelmed by making too many commitments. Sometimes we really just need to relax and enjoy life. It’s hard, I know, to say ‘NO’ but we really need to learn to do it more. Once we learn how to say ‘NO’ to the things that aren’t that important we will have more time to say ‘YES” to those things that are important. Check out this book, ‘How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty: And Say Yes to More Time, and What Matters Most to You‘, for tips.

While you are practicing saying ‘NO’ start saying ‘NO’ to multitasking too.

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed? Check out 3 Strategies to Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed (FREE Webinar).

Stop Multitasking?

Wait, what? Yes, I know that might seem impossible. I am always multitasking as are most Mommas. The problem is that many times we start things and don’t finish them.

I have so many half finished projects laying around the house. Granted quite a few of them don’t belong to me but they are the result of multitasking.

When we are focusing on so many things we aren’t as focused on the task on hand. We need to focus on the stuff that really matters and work on it until completed before moving on to the next task. You will find that life is much simpler when we stop sweating the small stuff.

Check out these books here and here to find out how to get more done.

Be sure to check out the other post in this series for more simple ways to simplify your life.

 

Click here to go to Step 4.

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May 2017 Club Updates: Clay Allemanders

Club updates from the Clay Allemanders in Middleburg. Shane is the caller and Ken is the co-caller.

Greetings from Clay Allemanders!

We have some exciting new news.  Clay Allemanders will be moving to a new Home Dance Hall

Our first Dance in the New Hall will be next Monday, May 22.

The Location: Middleburg United Methodist Church Family Center Building,
                               Address: 3925 Main Street Middleburg.


Directions are very easyCome down Blanding Blvd. until you see the Wells Fargo Bank on the left side of Blanding. Make a left turn on Palmetto Road, just before passing the Bank.  There is a traffic light there.  Go on down Palmetto until you t-bone to the intersection of Main Street.  Make a right turn.  Look on your left, you will spot the Middleburg United Methodist Church.  The first building to the complex is the Family Life Center.  That’s our new Hall!  It is the largest building, set back off the Street with parking directly in front.  Park there, and come on in the main door.

Many of you may remember this Hall from the recent past. NEFSARDA, along with Clay Allemanders and several other Clubs sponsored a very successful Fifth Saturday Dance there.  We love our new Hall… as it has a very large dance floor, great acoustics, nice stage, full size kitchen, easy parking in a wonderful old historic neighborhood (the original downtown Middleburg)

We are excited to grow our Club as we now are moving ahead with our new callers, Shane Perez, and co-caller, Shane’s Dad, Ken Perez…..And now….our new greatly improved Home Dance Hall!

There will be more Fun Events being scheduled for the summer in our new Hall, but…. we will be DARK, May 29th, Memorial Day.  Stay-Tune for more “invite” announcements on fun dances coming up in June and July!

Please know you are all invited to come visit and dance with us this next Monday, May 22  as we celebrate our First Dance in the Middleburg United Methodist Church Hall. Our Classes are in progress and run from 7PM to 8PM.  Our Club Dance commences at 8 PM and goes through to 9:30 PM.

— Bill Dion

Making Our Homeschool Schedule

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here.

I don’t know about everyone else but keeping up with 6 kids and their school work can be stressful at times. They are on different levels ranging from Pre-K to High School and sometimes I just get confused as to who is where and what needs to be finished. I wanted to keep up with our school work and grades for my own records and I needed a system. The scholarship that my 14 year old has also required a portfolio to be kept and I had no idea where to start. Continue reading Making Our Homeschool Schedule

Getting Routines Started 101

‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’

OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here. Continue reading Getting Routines Started 101

Yearly Routines

This page is a work in progress. Here are some links you can check out until I get this page completed.

The Ultimate Household Chore List

ANNUAL CLEANING CHECKLIST {FREE PRINTABLE}

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Original Blog Post April 15, 2016
I just posted about the beginnings of our homeschooling journey. We have made several changes and continue to make changes as needed to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. When we first started this school year I was a bit overambitious and I was stressed.
I must thank the FlyLady for helping get my routines set up and keeping me motivated! There is also a FB group for anyone who is interested in learning more about this method. With that being said a routine is very important also. At least for our family that is. We have one child who has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD as well as some other issues and another child who has ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).
Routine is the key to helping everyone stay on track. With a routine they know what is expected and when it is expected. We have tried various charts and methods for posting our routine. It was pretty strict at first but I have relaxed a lot since we first started. We do have a few things posted as a general outline of the day.
I have some visual learners and they really need to see it every day. Then we also have a HUGE calendar that we keep things on also. This has made a tremendous difference with my kids. We did have another schedule board posted in the kitchen. It had our morning chores and morning school activities on it. The kids would move a clothespin down to each activity and they really enjoyed it. The only problem was that occasionally we wouldn’t do something in the order it was on the chart and my one son would get really upset about it. Now its just more of a general ‘To-Do’ list that we need to complete for the morning, afternoon and evening.
I usually get up about 6:00 am and take my quick shower. I will get dressed and fix my hair. Then I head to the kitchen and try to sneak in a little ‘Mommy Time’ before the pitter-patter of little feet. I will fix my coffee and go over my daily schedule on my online calendar. I have been known to forget about a doctor’s appointment or such. I also try to look at the menu and get started on dinner if it is a crockpot meal. (Menus will be another post.) I will usually unload the dishwasher and put away the dishes that go in the top cupboards. I leave the lower cupboard items on the counter for the girls to put up when they get up.
I have been trying to keep the kids in their rooms until 7:00 am to give me a little time but sometimes the little guys find their way to the kitchen before then. I will fix breakfast and usually have it on the table when the kids make it to the kitchen. The basic morning routines for the kids include:
Wake up
Make your bed
Get dressed
Brush your hair
Go potty (I have a few who still need to be reminded of this on a pretty consistent basis.)
Eat breakfast
Brush your teeth
I keep it fairly simple and we do have a small sheet posted with pictures (for those who can’t read yet) and words to help remind them of what needs done.
After breakfast everyone helps with a quick clean up and some chores which vary day by day. We even include these on our school schedule as ‘Life Skills’ as they are learning how to care for a home. While the kids are cleaning up I get the laptops set up for school and get everyone’s work out for the day. (I have a multi-tabbed color coded folder which helps me stay organized. Each child has a different color.)I usually just open up tabs on the laptops with each assignment for the day. When they finish the assignment they leave the tab open until I come around and check.
We then have our ‘Morning Time/Circle Time’, not sure what to call it, where we go over patterns, calendar, counting, money/time, weather, bible, and whatever extra materials I have set out for the day. (Again I have a 3-ring binder with different activities organized by the day. Sometimes we get to them and sometimes we don’t. I used to stress over making sure I covered it all but now I don’t.) We sometimes include a quick workout/dance video or other activity to get the wiggles out. Then we will have a quick snack around 9:30 am. This usually takes us 15-30 minutes.
My 7 & 9 year old will sit at the kitchen island while the boys sit at the kitchen table. When everyone gets settled in to doing their work I will check the bedrooms and make sure the beds are made. (I don’t make their beds for them or do any unfinished chores but will have them go back and do it if needs done.) I also clean the back bathroom and check the second bathroom to make sure the kids have cleaned it. This usually takes 5-10 minutes tops.
I will check on the girls and see if they need help with anything and see if they need help with anything. (My high schooler works independently and she will ask for help when she needs it.) Then I will sit with the boys and we will work with our hands on activities and/or crafts. We will also go through their lessons online and watch a few YouTube videos of their choosing, lately they just want to watch dinosaur videos.
While the little boys watch a short video or two I work with my older son on his reading lessons. On good days he will get finished really quickly and then there are bad days where he says he doesn’t know any of the words. He knows that we won’t go to the next activity until he finishes his reading so I try to keep something he enjoys for last. Sometimes it is ABC mouse or Teach Your Monster to Read and other times it may be a puzzle or game.
Before lunch time we usually have our ‘Independent Work’ completed. This includes reading, language arts, and math. When everyone is finishing up they will begin cleaning up their workspaces. Each child will put their completed work into a color coded folder so Mommy can find it later and decide what to keep for their portfolio. Ideally I like to go through these once a week but right now their folders are overflowing. (This would have driven me nuts a couple of months ago but now I know I will get to it, eventually.)
After cleaning up we will get started on lunch. This is usually around 11:30 am. Sometimes I have lunch boxes prepared with leftovers from the night before or sometimes I just make lunches in the morning and put the boxes in the refrigerator for later. Most days everyone eats lunch together.
While eating lunch I will do some reading with them. (Right now we are reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin for history.) When they are finished with lunch we have a quick clean up and everyone takes a potty break. I will start the dishwasher and check on my menu if I haven’t already put something in the crockpot for dinner.
Until just this past month everyone would go lie down for ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. I found that they really didn’t want to finish their work after they got up and it would just drag the afternoon on and on and on. So now after lunch we just go right into our ‘Group Studies’ which are History, Science, Art, Music and PE/Health. Everyone works together on these subjects. We do a lot of lapbooks and sometimes we will look up videos for areas they are interested in. If the work is complicated I will give the little ones coloring pages or another activity to work on while the older ones do their work. This little change has been working much better for us.
After ‘Group Studies’ all of the kids have some ‘Quiet Time’. This is usually over around 2:00 pm. Then they can go outside and play or go to our playroom to play depending on the weather. We just have one rule at ‘Quiet Time’ which is ‘No Feet on the Floor!’. This gives me a chance to work on my grocery list, couponing, or entering grades and checking over our daily schedule to make sure I haven’t missed something.
Once ‘Quiet Time’ is over we will have a quick snack. I will go outside, usually with a kid or two following, and feed the pigs and check for eggs. We will also check the garden and pick any veggies that are ready or anything that we may need for dinner. We come in and wash the goodies we have found.
I will start on dinner between 4:00 – 5:00 pm. This is another thing I changed recently. I ALWAYS had dinner ready by 5:00 pm. That’s another story for another day though. Our family has had some major changes in the past couple of years and I have just had to make adjustments to help us all through it. Life happens and now dinner will be ready sometime between 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Today it was ready by 5:00 pm but that has been a rarity lately. Once 5:30 pm rolls around I will have kids complaining that they are starving and must eat so I try to have it ready close to that time.
After dinner we clean up and do some quick chores. The kids will have some quiet play or reading time and then the kids will take baths and put on PJs. They are usually in bed around 7:30 pm except for the oldest and the youngest. I will sit with the younger ones until they are sleepy and then help them to bed. My oldest will finish up her school work and I will finish up any desk work I have left for the day. I am usually exhausted and in bed by 9:00 pm. Exciting isn’t it?
Now you may notice that we do have chores a couple of times during the day. Our chores only take 5-15 minutes at a time. I have found by having a few ‘quick pickups’ spaced out through the day it keeps us from having a major mess at the end of the day. Even the little ones can help with clean ups. Not every day goes very smooth or ends with a clean house.
With a routine you need to decide what will work for your family. Don’t be too strict about it but it may also be wise not to be too relaxed either. Start simple and as things slowly. Sit down and decide what you would like to accomplish each day/week and decide what the important things are. Assign a general time to have these things completed. I have found that by breaking the day up into smaller chunks of time it really keeps me from being overwhelmed.
Remember that you can change your routine if it isn’t working. With our family what works today may not work tomorrow and may need a complete overhaul to get everyone back on track again. Don’t be afraid of change!
Good luck!

Dear Special Needs Parent

Original Blog Post on July 12, 2016
Dear Special Needs Parent, I see you in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, and at the park. I see the smiles that hide the tears. I see the tired look you try to hide. I hear the little sigh you let out when another mom talks about ‘date night’ or a milestone their child has reached. How do I see and hear all of this? I am a special needs mom, a single parent, a homeschooling mom, and so much more.
I know how hard it is to get up at the crack of dawn because your kid is already up and calling for you, even though they didn’t fall asleep until late. I know how hard it is to divide your attention between the kids, the chores, and all that has to be done. Much less finding time to do things for yourself like shower.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last ‘date night’ I’ve had or even the last time I was away from my kids for a night. (Maybe when the 3 year old was born?) I know that when you try to plan an outing it drains you because of all the things you have to be prepared for. You are exhausted by the time you get everything and everyone packed and ready.
Things that were once fun can still be fun but they are oh so exhausting now days. We have our good days when nobody has a melt down (or maybe just a couple of melt downs for the day), nobody wets the bed, and everyone eats what you made for dinner.
Then we have the bad days. The days when everything causes a meltdown, from the French Toast you make every Tuesday to keep things on a simple routine, to the thunder they thought they heard, or the little brother who is stuck on singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which was big brother’s favorite song yesterday but is irritating him today). Sigh, I know.
Then we have the really bad days were we just want to go back to bed. The days when you have done 3 loads of laundry before 6 am. When you have showered your 13 year old 4 times before 7am and stripped his room (and the bathroom) and completely disinfected and sanitized it for the 3rd day in a row. The days when he has forgotten/refuses to do anything for himself and calls you every bad name he can think of and then some that you can’t and don’t want to understand. I’ve been there. Sometimes these phases last a day or two or sometimes a week or two.
I can remember a few years ago when I had to clean my son’s room. It was a horrible mess. I grabbed rubber gloves and trash bags. I went to his room and opened the window. I filled those bags and started tossing them out the window because it was so nasty and I just couldn’t bear the thought of cleaning the stuff again just to have him repeat this scene again in a day or two. I was about 3 weeks from my due date with our 8th child. While cleaning I started throwing up because it was so bad. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days, at one point they thought I would be delivering the baby early. This was a week before Christmas and we had already planned a party for friends and family. The timing couldn’t have been worse. The party was cancelled and all last minute Christmas shopping went undone. But we made it through that and you will make it through whatever it is that you are going through right now too. (A very healthy baby boy was born 2 weeks later.)
I have my kids 24/7 with only a slight reprieve two times a week (when he feels like coming or something else doesn’t come up in his schedule) for maybe 2 hours a time (which was scheduled to be 5 hours each time but he never makes it that long). I can’t leave because something always happens. Sometimes I go to my bedroom or sit outside but the kids usually wander away and end up with me so I really have almost no ‘Me time’.
I know the brave front you put on when you are out and about. I know the fear when the kid next to you wipes their snotty nose on their hand and then goes to play with your kid. I know that if my kid catches whatever that is that life will be miserable for the next week or two. Not too mention the fact that it will eventually spread through the house and I’ll end up sick trying to tend to 6 kids by myself too. Yep, I know.
I also know that we need to be there for each other. We need to be a support system for each other. Whether by joining blogs or Facebook groups. If someone offers to help then let them. They can do dishes, wash laundry or just sit with the kids while you nap. Maybe when you the kids get comfortable you can even sneak away to do the grocery shopping by yourself.
Don’t keep trying to do it by yourself as you will just crash and burn. Trust me, I know.
If you are a friend or neighbor, maybe a parent or sibling of someone who has a special needs child please know that they do need you and they need your support. I can’t tell you how much it means just to chat for a minute on Messenger or a couple of texts when I am having a hard day. Let me tell you that I will never turn down food, especially ready to eat food. When someone shows up unexpectedly at the door with an armload of pizzas it is a wonderful feeling to know they were thinking about you.

Take a peek into my morning

 Original Blog Post April 21, 2016
Its 9:00 am and I’m sitting on my bed feeling overwhelmed already. I was determined I would make it through the day without crying or feeling sad but that’s not the case.
Something my husband said the other day still haunts me and it saddens my heart for him, our children, and for what the future holds if he doesn’t change the path he is on. I know he says he is happy but I can’t help but feel sad when I think of how he will feel when the day comes and he realizes what he gave up on and what he missed out on.
A friend texted me this morning just to let me know they were thinking of me and that made me smile. Something that I haven’t done a lot of lately. I’ve been worried about my friend too and have been thinking of them and their problems.
I feel a bit guilty because I have not been as faithful in my praying for others the past few weeks so I will set my prayer notebook out to remind me every time I walk into my room. It doesn’t take long to take a peek at someone or something I have written down. I can focus on praying for that person or situation instead of focusing on my own problems. It will also keep me from trying to take things into my own hands and leaving them with God which is where I need to leave them.
I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted to yet and I’ve lost my focus. I’ve settled many disputes over Legos and train tracks, fixed broken toys, cleaned up spilled milk, and fed the animals (and the kids). Time to take a little break and look through my list.
Hmmm…
Wake up ✔
Quiet time/devotion X
Shower✔
Get dressed ✔
Take vitamins ✔
Make coffee✔
Empty dishwasher✔
Fix breakfast✔
Kids dressed ✔
Feed animals✔
Lots of ✔s but one big X. Maybe that’s the problem? I didn’t start out right. Yes, I had my cup of coffee and a little ‘me’ time but I didn’t really need alone time I needed some ‘we’ time. God and me time.
So I’ve snuck to my room for a couple of minutes to read my daily devotional from a book by Joyce Meyers and another from ‘Our Daily Bread’. Just what I needed. It was almost my story told by another person. It reinforces choices I made in the past that I have been questioning. The last sentence says ‘But if our loving Father has handpicked us for our task, who are we to whisper, “I can’t do this”?’. Wow. He knows what we need before we do!
Now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my next projects and get our school day started. Time to formulate my plan of action. I need to put some oil in the diffuser and turn it on… essential oils have made a big difference since taking the kids off of their medications.
There is a load of laundry that needs folded and put away. I can do that while the kids eat their snack and tidy the playroom.
The kitchen trash can needs emptied so I can give that to one of the girls to take out and hand the mail to another to carry to the mailbox.
I also need to set out some pork for dinner, maybe I should try to convert that recipe to work in the crockpot?, maybe.
After snack and chores we can do our Morning Time get started on our independent work.
The bathrooms need a quick clean which can be done while they are working and maybe I can sneak in a quick vacuuming while the boys watch a ‘Signing Times’ video? .
Ok, focus has been found. Not a whole lot of things to work on but enough to help me feel I’ve accomplished a few things. Then I will take another little break, read another passage from my notebook, and pick another person and/or situation to focus on and formulate my next ‘plan of attack’ for the day’s chores.
It’s almost snack time so I will head back to the kitchen. I can hear the kids arguing about turtles. They are trying to decide if turtles are reptiles or dinosaurs. Now I hear my special needs son calling someone a ‘Butthead’ so he will be going to his room for a little quiet time of his own.
I’m sure this will result in a tantrum with lots of yelling and screaming but it will be followed by a few minutes of quiet and then he will come out and apologize. Then he’ll give me a hug and say he wants to have a ‘Good Day’ and we will start over. (This reminds me that he still needs a haircut.) But before that I need to rescue the alligator from a ‘net’… Have I mentioned how much the kids like Animal Planet and Steve Irwin?
I’ll check back in a bit.
Snack was bananas and some chocolate graham crackers. There was denial of the name calling, followed by a tantrum. After a few minutes in his room he did ask if he could come out. (This was much sooner than anticipated because I think he really wanted his snack.) He apologized and all was well for a few minutes.
Sigh, then the girls were arguing over a word search book. Little sister said she had it first and Big sister said it was her book. Little sister brought the argument to me as she was sure she was in the right. I looked at the book and it was Big sister’s book so I explained to Little sister that she can’t take someone else’s things and claim them. Then that put Little sister is in a grumpy mood… no fun!
That being said the clothes didn’t get folded during snack time. Then when I made it back to the laundry room there were no empty baskets.
The oil diffuser did get started and the trash was carried out. Bonus: The bathrooms got cleaned and I did get the bathroom trash into the trash bag before it was carried out.
I set the pork out for dinner but haven’t had time to decide if I should try to put it in the crockpot.
Morning Time resulted in Little sister going to her bed for a little quiet time. The little boys were fighting over the alligator and the ‘net’. My other son was just LOUD about everything and he would start giggling and shouting ‘I farted!’. which would send everyone else holding their noses and shouting ‘EWWW!’. This repeated itself over and over again.
After giving up on accomplishing any more Morning Time activities I set up the laptops and got out the morning work for the kids. Everyone is now working quietly.
The girls are sitting at the island and the 4 year old is sitting with the 9 year old ‘helping’ her with her math. (Crazy thing is that he can usually get it right.) She is more motivated to get her work done when she ‘teaching’ someone else so they both benefit.
Grumpy sister is quietly doing her work after a little bit of trouble getting started. Teenage sister helped her get through a little problem she had with irregular plural nouns. She is feeling pretty motivated because I gave them a couple of coloring sheets for Earth Day and she really likes to color.
Loud brother is actually coloring quite intently. It takes a lot of concentration to keep the crayon in the lines and he is drawing the family standing on top of the earth picture. I need to go over his lessons but I think I’ll wait a bit. Then we also need to do his reading lesson… that will be so much fun! Actually he is getting much better at reading and as long as he has a fun activity to do after it he will be motivated to get it done quickly. If he isn’t motivated it will take us FOREVER!
The 2 year old has pulled out a puzzle I recently bought at the thrift store and he is working diligently on it while watching Dinosaur Train. I notice that one of the maps has been pulled partially off the wall so that’ll need fixed. Maybe I can do that before I vacuum?
It’s 11:30. Time for me to make some lunch, tuna sandwiches with some tomatoes from the garden?, and maybe fold some clothes while they eat. I will sneak in a little quiet time when I go to put away my clothes and look through my prayer notebook. I will look over my To-Do list and look at what I had planned on getting done today.
Maybe at nap time I can search online for the outfits for the boys. Oldest sister’s wedding is quickly approaching and there is still so much to do. I will at least work on my desk mess a little bit. I know there is a pile of papers that need to be filed so maybe I’ll start there. Then hopefully I can try on the outfit before I go to bed and I noticed yesterday that I need to use the lint roller on it too.
Reading over this makes me realize that sometimes I just put too much on myself. Maybe you do too? There will always be something that needs to be done. Just take it one thing at a time, do the most important things first, break big jobs into little jobs, take rest breaks, and ask for help when you need it!
I hope you enjoyed taking a little peek into my day. I know sometimes I feel like I’ve failed but then I read about the struggles of others and I know that we all have our ‘days’. Sometimes those days are actually weeks or months. Each and every person has their struggles and their own way of dealing with it. Sometimes seeing how others deal with things can help us in our journey.
OK, I gotta go now as Loud brother is now Hungry brother and keeps repeating, ‘Mom, I’m hungry.’
I hope everyone has a blessed day!
NOTE:
While making lunch I realized I didn’t have any tuna so I checked the refrigerator and I had enough lunchboxes from dinner last night to warm up for lunch.
Grumpy sister was still confused about irregular nouns so I went over the work sheet with her and it was such a blessing to watch her face when it ‘clicked’ and she finally understood. She went on to finish the worksheet on her own and got them all correct.
I heard the UPS truck at the front gate but it was gone before I got to the door. Little boys were running around being crazy so I sent them to the gate (which was closed and locked) to retrieve the package for me. I stood at the door watching my little guys and saw how much they are growing and changing on a daily basis. They retrieved the package and picked some flowers. The were so proud when they handed me the flowers and the package.
Big sister helped to clean up after she finished her work and she actually did her reading lesson with no prompting or constant reminding!
Hungry brother probably told me 20 or 30 times he was hungry before I got lunch on the table but he did eventually eat.
Take each day and cherish it. Make memories that will last. Just focus on what is really important in your life. For me right now it is my family. Sticky floors and dirty windows can wait until tomorrow.