Friday, August 26, 2011

Lazy Girl Recipe Chicken and Noodle Summer Salad

1 lb of cooked and cubed chicken breasts
1 box of spiral noodles
2 cups shredded or cubed cheese (any variety)
2 freshly chopped tomatoes
1 small bag frozen peas
Any other fresh veggies you like or have on hand (cucumber, onion, olives, etc.)
1 small bottle of ranch dressing

Cook and cool the chicken and the noodles. Combine all ingredients except dressing in large bowl.  Add the dressing immediately before serving.   The noodles will absorbed the dressing, therefore for fuller flavor and less calories, add dressing just before serving.

This makes for a quick meal if you have the chicken and noodles cooked ahead of time.  The noodles are easy and quick, but you must make sure to cool them thoroughly or you will have melted cheese.

It is a great dish to bring to a party.  My friends and I would hang out on a Friday, helping the other clean house or do a project.  We would often do a “stone soup” meal where we would dig through our pantries and fridges for the ingredients we needed.  This was one of our favorites.  We would eat and play cards and drink sweet tea.  Boy I miss those cool summer evenings in Washington with great friends.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Lazy Girl's Guide to Cleaning the Bathroom In 10 Easy Steps

Keeping the bathrooms clean is a major issue for us.  I guess maybe it is because we have 5 people who shed hair, leave dirty clothes on the ground, leave the cap off of the toothpaste, and most importantly, don’t like to clean bathrooms.  I am implementing these steps and have posted them in the bathrooms in hopes that when I declare that the bathrooms need to be cleaned we will know exactly what to do.  It is always easier to do things if you have a plan. 

As usual, the Lazy Girl doesn't like to be overwhelemed, so I also am going to try to do the daily items in the bathroom each time I go to potty.  It should only take a couple extra minutes and if I am drinking as much water as the Fly Lady suggests, then I should be in there a lot.

Do these things daily:

1.      Remove all clothing, dirty towels, and personal belongings. Put away all other items.

2.      Take out trash, clean can if needed, and replace bag.

3.      Swish and wipe the toilet (use all-purpose cleaner or good ol’ liquid soap with brush for inside, paper towel or wipe for outside)

4.      Shine sink and counter with used hand towel.

Do these things weekly:

5.      Spray sink with all-purpose cleaner, wipe with rag.

6.      Spray bath/shower with all-purpose cleaner, use rag to wipe down top to bottom, rinse as needed.

7.      Polish mirror (use ammonia solution and paper towel or newspaper).

8.      Wipe down fixtures, walls, door, and cabinets (as needed)

9.      Sweep floor.

10.  Mop floor.

What are your steps for keeping the bathrooms clean? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Disobedience: The Quickest Way to Fail as a Mom

Allowing your children to be disobedient is the quickest way to fail as a mom.

There I said it!

It’s true, isn’t it? 

You can try to homeschool or send them to school, pursue a home career or work outside of the home, go to school for a degree or be a housewife, be a volunteer or just focus on your family, but if you have a disobedient child, all of those things will have a dark cloud hanging over them.

I am not an expert on how to punish children. I take no pleasure in punishing.  I know what works and what doesn’t work with my own children, but because people and families are so different it would be hard for me to tell you how to correctly punish your children. The word discipline has turned into a synonym for punishment, but before it meant punishment it meant to teach or instruct.  The best way to discipline a child is to teach her, to instruct her, how to behave before she misbehaves, affirming the behavior you want her to have; reserving punishments for only the most severe times.

For instance, when my children were very little they wanted to do dishes.  I often didn’t allow my oldest daughter to do dishes because she wouldn’t do them well and it just was a big mess that I didn’t want to deal with.  To this day, she will do dishes, but she finds no pleasure in doing them and will avoid the chore if at all possible. My middle girl though doesn’t seem to mind to do dishes.  She was allowed to do dishes when she was very young, to basically play at doing dishes.  I usually get no arguments from her when it is time to do the dishes. Why?  I reinforced that doing dishes was a fun thing to do when she was very little.  Sound a little like brainwashing?  Maybe.

Another example: I have NEVER allowed my children to complain about the food they were being served.  If they happen to hate it so much that they threw-up, then of course I wouldn’t serve it to them again, but if they just didn’t like it, too bad.  To this day I NEVER get complaints.  They might not clean their plates, but they know that I really don’t care whether or not they like it.  Mainly food is for nourishment, not enjoyment and indulgent.  In contrast, I have a friend who really struggles in this area with her children.  She will make 3 different meals for 3 different children at one setting.  This would be intolerable for me, and guess what?  It is for her as well. When they are expected to sit and eat something that they didn’t want or that doesn’t sound good to them, they throw major temper tantrums.  This was so embarrassing for her and so upsetting that I could tell she just wanted to cry.  I felt so badly for her.  She obviously wanted to be a good mom and in most areas she is a good mom, but this one area of disobedience was so over the top that it was ruining her enjoyment of motherhood. 

We all have those areas where we just feel like we want to toss up our hands and give in to them. 
One area I have failed in has been getting my children to clean their rooms.  Why? I have allowed them to disobey.  I don’t make them do this chore every day.  Usually once a week we get all their rooms cleaned up.  When we do this chore I help them.  Of course that is appropriate for my 5 year old, but for my 12 year old it isn’t. She knows how to keep her room clean, but I haven’t insisted upon it nor did I make it a fun time when she was little.  When we did finally clean the room it was such a disaster that it took hours to clean and it was miserable for both of us.     

Let me stress this point again: They are disobedient because I allow them to disobey. 

If I was really serious about getting them to clean their rooms I would have to make some changes that I am not quite prepared to make.

1.       I would have to clean my room every day to set a good example.

2.       I would have to make it a priority in our day.

3.       I would have to train them in the way I wanted it done.

4.       I would have to confirm that they did the job.

5.       I would have to follow through on any punishment for disobeying.

The key phrase: “I would have to”.

Now, this is something on my list of things to do.  I do want my children to be trained to keep a house including their bedrooms.  As an adult I can see how my training was lacking and I don’t want to send my children out into adulthood without them being disciplined in this area fully. We will work on becoming disciplined in this area of our lives. Maybe I will have to make some concessions about the frequency.  Maybe we will have to tweak the cleaning schedule to rotate tasks.  Whatever we do, we will do it with purpose and with a plan. 

There is another point here that cannot be ignored: when your children are undisciplined and disobedient in many areas it is hard to determine what skill you want to teach them first. You may look at your life and the behavior of your child and ask the question: where do I start?  The enormity of the problem can be so overwhelming that you don’t start, you just avoid. Remember, you don’t have to address every problem in a week.  You can address these problems in a systematic way.  There are many good books and experts out there to help you.  Lean on their wisdom.  Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. 

My personal experience tells me that the area of discipline that is most important is holding their temper.  Your whole day can be ruined by one temper tantrum.  Controlling their anger is number one top priority and if you are weak in this area as well, you will have to address that too.  I would suggest that you rely heavily on prayer and Bible studies to help you though this.  It is something I have struggled with myself and no expert has been able to reason me into letting go of anger.  Only God gives me relief from this sin.  Because your children are young you can help them to work through this behavior before it becomes scarring. 

Last but not least, you must find support from your husband. Actually, it is by far the most important factor. All of your efforts can be completely undermined by a non-supportive husband and vice-a-versa.  Often issues with our children are camouflage for a serious marital issue.  When parents don’t see eye to eye on how to discipline and punish, the children run amok.  They are in control because the parents certainly aren’t.  There is a reason why God addresses this in the Bible. He speaks of how we are to become of one flesh.  We are one flesh with one mind controlling that flesh.  When we are of two minds about issues we become separate in flesh also.  When children have to deal with two weak systems of government they follow neither and create their own.  We also see that when there is one strong or over burdensome system of government and one weak one, the child will abuse the weak one and avoid the strong one.  In either scenario, you end up with a disobedient child. 

Of course this isn’t to say that you, as the mother should not have opinions about how the children should be raised.  HA! Husbands can sometimes get confused about that whole “head of the wife” verse. You are very likely the expert in the relationship when it comes to understanding your children because you spend the most time with them.  If you are a stay-at-home mom especially, you will see sides of your children that your husband never experiences.  If you have any kind of decent husband, he will understand this after you beat him over the head with the facts a few times.  (Just kidding.) A good leader will always listen to the experts on his team and value their opinions. But see you aren’t a team in the corporate sense.  You are ONE FLESH.  You make decisions together, you converse together, you raise your children together.

Finally, I want to speak to husbands directly.

Husbands, value you wives above rubies, if for no other reason than your wife is the means by which your children will be guided through life. If you care at all about them, then you certainly should care about her.  But, hopefully, there are many reasons why you would value her above rubies.  She is your best friend, your biggest advocate, your strongest supporter, your most trusted confidant, and your truest love.  Her happiness should be your greatest priority.  If you see your wife struggling in her role as mother to your children, you should have the decency to gently lead her to safety.  There you can address her concerns, comfort her, and renew her spirits.  A warning: if you ignore your responsibility to her as her husband it will cost you dearly.  Just because you provide a paycheck doesn’t mean your job ends there.  If she is complaining of not having enough personal time, the children aren’t behaving, she is tired and worn out, or anything of the sort then you should leap to her aid.  Your job is to provide AND to protect.  Protection isn’t just about defending your home.  Protection means to protect her heart, her spirit, and her soul.  Big responsibility, I know, but that is why I would rather be a wife than a husband.  I only have to honor and respect.  Husbands have to love like Christ loved.  THAT is only a job for a hero.

Moms, enjoy your time as a mother.  It will be gone before you know it.  Time has flown by for our family.  I want to look back on my time as a mother and more importantly look at the lives of my children in the future and know that because of my sacrifices and because I honored God that my children are happy, productive, God serving people who bring honor to God as well.  I would be so sad if I looked back on my life and saw that because of my failure to discipline my children they were soured, spoiled, self-centered adults.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Will President Bachmann Submit?

There are times not having TV really irk me.  Last night was one of them.  I really wanted to watch the Republican debate, but I had to settle for pundits’ interpretations this morning.  I hear that a very probing question was asked of Michelle Bachmann and not of any of the male candidates. 

I am not supporting any specific candidate at this time, but I am a huge supporter of fair play and I think last night some weren't playing fair. 

“As President, would you be submissive to your husband?” she was asked.
Rep. Bachmann goes on to answer that what submission means to her is respect.  They respect and love each other, and in short, they are partners. 

I find it interesting that they didn't ask her if her views of submission interfered with her job as a tax attorney or as a Congresswoman.  Why should it be any different as President of the United States? 

Considering what a cheap shot that was, I think she was very classy in her response.  I wish she would have gone a little further and made it clear that Marcus wasn’t going to be her co-president, because that is really what the question was about.  This was an attempt to illustrate weakness in Michelle Bachmann as a candidate because they are coming up short politically and professionally.  They are only left with personal attacks and a stupid one at that. This attack was designed to humiliate her as a Christian woman -- to show that a Christian woman isn't going to be able to lead the country when she is being lead by her husband.
Of course no questions were asked of the men who don’t follow a strict Biblical view of marriage asking them if they plan on letting their wives boss them around.  Wouldn’t that get in the way of a male President doing his job?  What about those men who do follow the strict Biblical view of marriage?  Why weren’t they asked how they intend to love their wives like Christ loved the church while they are President?  Wouldn’t being President interfere with that role?  Wouldn’t that role interfere with being President?!

Being President of the United States interferes with every part of family life. There is nothing that goes untouched, but does that mean that no Christian should run for office? If you have a partnership, like in the Bachmann marriage, you don’t make a decision like running for President lightly, and you surely know that the Presidency is a one woman/man show.  Once the decision is made to run, the spouse of the candidate has accepted that there are serious sacrifices that must be made in family life. That doesn’t mean that the spouse doesn’t have the ear of the President.  Has there been a First Lady yet who hasn’t enjoyed the support of the President in her cause?
The President is the one with the security clearance.  The President is the one who makes the decisions.  The President is the one with veto power.  The President is the one who gives the State of the Union Address.  The President is the one who is held responsible.  Marcus will have no more influence over her than Michelle Obama has over President Obama.  To ask questions that assume otherwise is juvenile and not worthy of the voters time.

I am no theologian.  Where Biblical marriage is concerned, I know what my and my husband's views are. I know that in the view of a traditionalist we are liberal, and in the view of a liberal we are traditional.  Either way, how a marriage is run is up to husband and wife, not the world.  We would never dream of speaking to a man that way and I am sickened that they would speak to Rep. Bachmann with such disrespect. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Managing the Week: Link up to 4 Moms

The 4 Moms have been discussing large family logistics and today’s topic is managing your week. We probably aren’t considered that large of a family, only 3 children, but this series is great for anyone with homemaking responsibilities.  I find that large families come up with the best ideas for staying organized. Kim Brenneman, whose book the 4 Moms are reviewing, Large Family Logistics , suggests assigning each day of the week an important homemaking task.  I haven’t read Kim’s book, but with the reviews the 4 Moms have given, I find Kim to be a kindred spirit.  For instance:

  • Laundry Day
  • Kitchen Day
  • Office Day
  • Town Day
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening Day
  • The Lord’s Day

I had heard of this type of routine before and I remember my Grandmother even having specific days of the week that she did important tasks. To the best of my memory her days were:

·         Monday – Cleaning and Laundry (she would change sheets and wash them while she was cleaning).

·         Wednesday – Errands and Books (she would go to the business she and my Grandpa owned and do the bookkeeping in the morning, then run her errands to the bank and stores).

There may have been other days that she designated, but I was just unaware of them.

On my homemaking journey I reflected on the fact that she was the only person in my life that really was a full-time housewife and a good one at that.  She was so clean; in fact, you would have never known she was a smoker.  Her house was always fresh and clean.  Trying to emulate her, what I found was that I fall short of the glory of Grandma, to put it mildly.

I assigned my week much like Kim suggests.  However, I found that I just didn’t keep up with it.  It didn’t become a habit for me so I didn’t end up maintaining it.  Looking back, I think it was because I didn’t follow the natural flow of our normal routine; I randomly assigned days.  Not only did they not tap into the natural flow of our weeks, making them a habit was made difficult.

If at first you do not succeed… I have been able to tap into that natural flow and discover that I do, in fact of point, assign days to important tasks in a more natural way.  I don’t have these posted anywhere, but in my mind I know that tasks have times when they need to be performed.  Knowing this helps me to stay organized in my cleaning routines and not get overburdened with tasks that I know I will be doing on another day.  Plus, when that day comes, I know that those tasks take priority for the day.

Monday – bedroom cleaning.  I only venture into my kids’ bedrooms once a week.  I know, it seems crazy doesn’t it? But, you know what I discovered? I could have them clean their bedrooms every single day of the week and it would still be trashed the next day.  So, to save myself some time and prevent headaches, I only offer my help once a week.  The rest of the week it is on them to bring down laundry, trash, and make deliveries to their room.  On Friday, we have another cleaning day, and the rooms get cleaned again, but with different purpose.

Thursday – Shopping: I like to get shopping done before the weekend, but close enough to it that I have all the supplies I will need for all our meals or special get-togethers.  We eat more food on the weekends because Hubs is home for all meals.

Friday –cleaning day. I like a clean house before the weekend starts.  We focus on the main living areas, declutter, dust, sweep, and mop.  The other rooms usually get touched on as I mentioned before, but not a deep clean, just a quick decluttering.

Friday – financials. Because we get paid every other Friday, this is a good day for me to check in with the budget, make sure we are on track, and pay any bills that aren’t auto (we pay most everything automatically through our account).

Town day - anytime I am going into town for a specific reason.  I try to double up on errands. What helps me in this area is having a place where I put items for those errands or a post-it to remind me that the errand is necessary next time I am out.  I have shelf on my desk were these items are placed.  Then when I am going out, I can grab the stack. 

Laundry day – part of a daily routine.  I don’t have a special day where I wash sheets.  Like Raising Arrows mentioned, with bed wetters you have to do laundry every day, or at least unexpectedly, so I just go with the flow there (pun intended). 

Kitchen day – part of a daily routine.  We are eating at home for almost every meal so we are cooking frequently through the week.  I have been trying to double up on meals so that I can freeze the doubled portion for later.  Even so, we still have a lot to cook every day.  I would really like to assign a baking day, but that may just have to remain random for a little while.   

Sunday – The Lords Day. We do attend church every Sunday and often have fellowship time afterwards.  We aren’t perfect at keeping this day holy, but often these days are very laid back and restful, not to mentioned filled with God honoring activities.

What we must remember is that we all have different seasons in our lives.  What worked great for my Grandma once she was an empty nester isn’t going to work for me with a full nest.  What works great for Kim in her extra-large family won’t fit the lives of an average family.  The point is to tap into that natural flow of your week and give purpose to it.  We can so easily get out of that natural flow because of distractions.  Giving purpose to each day will help ward off those distractions and keep our days efficient and effective.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lazy Girl Recipes: Flour Tortillas

I wish I could claim this one as my own, but I found it on It’s Twinsanity, who found it on Homesick Texan.  

This is such a simple recipe.  The kids loved helping through the whole process.  My only complaint is that they aren’t thin like traditional tortillas.  My next batch I will cut back a tad on the baking powder and roll them a little thinner. 

As a lazy girl, I can tell you the work is totally worth the taste.  It is very similar to nan, an Indian bread, and would be great as sandwich bread, a bottom layer for gravy dishes, or to dip in soups. 


Texas Flour Tortillas (adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)
Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil.
Slowly add the warm milk.
Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.
Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.
Makes eight tortillas
Here are a few pictures from our cooking adventure. The quality of picutre isn't great.  I need to work on getting a camara with a flash. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Lazy Girls Guide to Grocery Shopping: 10 Easy Steps

1.       Make a master List of regular menu items that you are sure to use every week. On this list write down other items you run out of through the week.

Lazy Girl Tip: Either save the copy of this to your desktop, not hidden in a file, or print many copies out and keep them in the baggie drawer.

2.      Look at the ads when they come in and circle good deals, add to your list, and set ad aside to be used at that store or for price matching.

Lazy Girl Tip: Think about stockpiling on really great deals.

3.       Go through coupons if you use them, add items to your list.

Lazy Girl Tip: Coupons are great if you match them with sales.  Otherwise, you can usually get just as good of a deal if you wait for a sale or if you buy store brands. The best deals are to be had with stacking (coupons and sales). 

4.       Things to take with you: list, ads, coupons, and water.

Lazy Girl Tip: Shopping for big families can take so much time.  Take a cool bottle of water to help recharge during or after your trip. 

5.       Pick a time.

Lazy Girl Tip: Wal-Mart at 5am, but that’s not what a lazy girl would do, so I just try to avoid the weekends if at all possible.

Lazy Girl Tip: Don’t take tired, cranky, or sick child.  Helpers are wonderful, but not if they are going to slow you down or make you miserable.

6.       Hit the non-perishable items first, then the perishables.

Lazy Girl Tip: Order your list at home to match the store you most often shop. 

7.       Self-Check out. 

Lazy Girl Tip: Bag like items (dairy, meats, cans, boxes, etc.)

Lazy Girl Tip: After a bag is full wait a few seconds before you remove the bag, this will allow the scale time to reset and will avoid the pop-up that asks about double bagging an item (a.k.a. putting it in your bag without paying). 

Lazy Girl Tip: Let the kids help.  Train them for bagger, scanner, and cart un-loader. There are tricks to all jobs. This will keep their hands off the candy and toys they put there to tempt our babies. :P

8.       Load the car with purpose: heavy stuff first, bread and eggs where they won’t be smashed.

9.       Have the kids or husband unload the car.

Lazy Girl Tip: Keep the troops happy by either buying them a treat like gum to have upon completion of their chore, or make them a big glass of ice water while they are unloading to show you appreciate their effort.

10.   Put away.

Lazy Girl Tip: This is where bagging like items comes in handy.  Put perishables away first.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Doing Dishes in 10 Easy Steps

I mentioned in a recent post that laundry is by far my favorite chore.  As much as I love doing laundry, I hate doing dishes.  What I hate even more is not doing the dishes, because it creates a huge, stinky, overwhelming mess in my kitchen.  This mess prevents me from enjoying cooking, which in turn leads to eating out.  So, I have come to accept that dishes must be done. 

What is odd about our dish situation is that we no longer have a dishwasher.  In the five years we have lived here it never worked great, but last year it finally started getting dishes dirtier rather than clean.  It became the dishdirtier.  When we replaced the kitchen floor, it found its way to the dump.  What I have noticed is that it makes no difference whether we have a dishwasher or not, it takes just as much time to rinse, load, and unload the dishwasher (not even considering when the dishes don’t get clean) as it does to wash the dishes each meal.  You can even combine the breakfast and lunch dishes into one load if you aren’t cooking complicated meals.

As the months have gone by, I have found a system that works very well for our set up.  This may take some tweaking for you exact situation.  We have a double sided sink with a faucet that has separate hot and cold nobs and a sprayer.  We have very little room on the left side because the sink is nearly in the corner.  There is more room on the right side and that is where we have the dish drainer set up. 

In developing this plan I have also taken into consideration my washing team made up of myself and my 2 daughters, 12 and 7.  The seven year old is being taught how to wash dishes right now, but her main duty is drying and putting away.  My older daughter is then stuck with washing unless I feel sorry for her, which doesn’t happen too often.  She has had somewhat of a hard time following the steps so I finally printed them out and taped them to the inside of a cabinet so she could look at them as she did dishes.  They are as follows:

How to do the Dishes in 10 easy steps

1.       Fill left sink with hot soapy water half way. Right side should have enough room to rinse.

2.       Wash dishes in this order: silverware and utensils, glasses and cups, plates and bowls, mixing and cutting dishes, pots and pans. 

3.       Wash each piece and place it down in the hot soapy water after it is clean.

4.       When soapy side is full, rinse dishes in cold water, place in drainer

5.       When drainer is full, stop to dry and put away. (This can be done by the dryer.)

6.       When the water no longer has suds or if dishes don’t smell like the soap, stop, drain, and refill the sink.

7.       Follow those steps until all dishes are done.

8.       When dishes are done, wipe down counters, stove, and table. (This can be done by the dryer between loads)

9.       Wash, drain, rinse, and dry around and in the sinks.

10.   Take all towels and rags outside to dry or take to washer.

Lazy Girl Tip – Do the dishes frequently so that the job is quick and painless.  Reward yourself with an icy Vanilla Coke afterwards (or your beverage of choice).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 2011 Fall Schedule

Well, everyone is talking about their schedules in the homeschool blogosphere, so I guess I will too.  Our summer schedule isn’t complete yet, but I should start thinking about the fall schedule I suppose.  I already have the schedules for our homeschool support group and science club; no sports this year or scouts.  I have most of the curriculum I am going to use, so I can start to plan

There are always changes to the schedule during the year.  You just can’t predict everything.  I find that when I try to schedule any more than 30 minute blocks the schedule becomes my master. I do need a schedule though.  If I don’t make one, I am likely to waste the day away blogging or surfing because the kids certainly aren’t going to insist we do school.

After I collect all the outside schedules I take a look at what my curriculum plans are for the year.  I want to incorporate many more unit studies this year.  When I first started reading about homeschool, doing unit studies is what appealed to me the most.  Instead of going with that, I went with an online curriculum for the first couple of years.  Last year we switched to workbooks which were fine, but I really want more depth in their education.  With that in mind, I made a list of topics I wanted to cover this year.  I also know I want to shore up math facts and spelling for my 6th grader, math facts and reading for my 2nd grader, and reading for my kindergartener.  I also want to promote more reading aloud and memorization for everyone with simple poems/readings and famous quotes. 

To limit the time they are spending doing core curriculum and make some room for more enrichment, I have limited core curriculum to just an hour a day.  The rest of the time I want their noses in good books, experimenting, arts/crafts, playing music, or playing games that promote rote memorization. 

One serious weakness we have always had is wasting time after core work is done.  We have been leaning heavily on unschooling in that area and although I really see the benefit of this, often they don’t choose to do enriching activities.  We also never really schedule chore times.  This must change.  They need to learn, and so do I, that education is something that should be valued greatly and comes with responsibilities.  Some of those responsibilities in homeschool revolve around taking care of the home.  So our schedule will reflect these values and ideas this year.

Here is the tentative plan:

8:30 Wake and wash
9:00 Breakfast and clean up
9:30 Morning exercise
10:00 Core studies (Math, Language Arts/ 30 minute lessons)
11:00 Reset room/Recess
11:15 Special Topic studies (music, foreign language, bible, keyboarding, handwriting, etc. /15 minute lessons)
12:15pm Lunch and clean up
12:45 Break
1:00 Group Unit Study
2:00 Reset room/recess
2:15 Games/Crafts
3:00 Independent Study (reading, music practice, hobby, etc.) and Tutor Time with Mom
3:30 Afternoon Chores and  Dinner prep
4:00 Free Time (naptime, errands, clubs)
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Dinner clean up
7:30 Free Time until Bed
9:00 Wash and pick up room
9:30 Lights Out 

  • Once a month we have a homeschool support group meeting at 2pm – 4pm.
  • Once a week we have a play group for young children at 10am. This may not work out for us.  Maybe when school starts again they will change the time of that group.
  • Once a month we have science club at 1pm - 3pm.
  • Once a month there is a field trip to go with the science club lesson.
  • Once a week we will be going to church during the week after we choose a new church.
  • In October we will start back at the Y and possibly do swim team or just take advantage of the pool.  They also offer a PE Homeschool class that we will likely enroll in this year.  It is once a week during the day.

Even without Soccer, our schedule will really be packed tight.  We won’t be bored. 

Now, as always, I like to describe how we can indulge the lazy girl within.  We can’t deny our true nature, but we certainly don’t want to let it take over our lives.  You will see on our schedule that we don’t get up until 8:30.  We don’t practice “early to bed, early to rise”.  My oldest daughter and I really like to sleep in.  My internal clock generally goes off at 7:30, but I don’t want to roll out of bed running.  I like to ease into it.  I read mail, check social network messages, read the news online, and if I have time, check in with blogs I like to read while I eat my breakfast.  If the kids happen to get up this early they are free to do what they want (within reason). 

You will also see that I do like to give the kids the opportunity for at least 11 hours of sleep.  Most parents really don’t appreciate the beauty of that many hours of sleep for their kids. I learned early on that my oldest daughter needed a good 12 hours of sleep.  If she didn’t get it she was terribly cranky by 4pm and was a major contributor to her struggles in school while she was still in public school.  When we switched to homeschool the first year I would just let her sleep until she woke up.  I discovered that she would sleep 11 – 12 hours.  The better mood she is in, the easier our day is.  This is true of all the kids, although my 2 younger kiddos don’t need that much sleep all the time.  My son still needs 10 – 11 and my middle daughter can get by on 9.  If they don’t get those hours they fight, whine, and generally get on my nerves.  So, my inner lazy girl says, let sleeping babies lie. 

There are free times scheduled in.  These aren’t just for the kids.  The lazy girl in me likes to know she can use those two hours for absolutely nothing, a nap, personal time, or whatever she wants – guilt free.  Guilt free is the key there.  If I take those breaks when I should be doing something that is written on my schedule I feel guilty and honestly, is there any reason why I, a stay-at-home-homeschool mom should feel guilty about taking a nap?  NOPE.  Often on the weekends or when my hubs comes home, he hits the bed for a nap before dinner.  After a long day, humans need naps sometimes.  What’s the big deal? If it give you the energy you need to be productive and attentive, who cares?

Schedules aren’t meant to rule your life.  They are there as a tool.  Be flexible!  If you are a homeschool family, this is one of the major perks.  If your schedule is so ridged every day you are struggling to keep up, what is the point?  Be aware of the natural flow of your lives and your bodies.  Be honest about who you are, and be purposeful about scheduling your priorities as well as your free time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Laundry Tips

I love laundry!  Seriously.  I really do love doing laundry.  Out of all my chores this one has ended up providing me with the most satisfaction. It used to be the bane of my existence, and even still there are times when the laundry gets out of control.  Even when that happens, the therapeutic qualities of line drying (the way it was explained on Simple Mom) far outweighs the stress. 
Over at Vintage Homemaking they have a great article about washing laundry the old fashioned way.  YIKES!  Good tips if your washer breaks down, but I think I would still opt for the laundry mat.

Anyway, I want to share with you my tips for doing laundry.  This system is very customized to fit our family’s needs, our space, and my laziness.   Take what you can use, leave what you can’t.


I am going to start with storage because it is by far the biggest obstacle I was facing.  I went from each of us having our own closet to one family closet.  I also switched from storing our out of season and saved clothes from out in the garage to one closet.  This was a reclaimed closet that was no longer being used after we switched to a family closet.  The family closet specifically has saved me tons of time and kept my anger level under control.  I can’t tell you how many times I did the laundry fully, put it in a basket, gave it to a child to put away, and then later found it tossed all over the floor.  I was told that my problem was that I didn’t train the children properly and should have supervised them better until they perfected the job.  HA!  What a joke.  Hello! Lazy girl here! But not only that, I am a parent who expects that her children will do what she says the first time, not ignore it.  It wasn’t a job training issue, it was an obedience problem.  I certainly am working on the obedience problem, but that can’t be changed overnight.  I needed a solution that would lessen the stress of laundry NOW!  With 5 people’s laundry at stake I needed a solution immediately. 

The family closet solved all of the issues I had regarding storage.  First, it lessened the number of flights of stairs we had to travel.  The laundry room is in the basement and the kids rooms are on the second floor.  The family closet is on the main floor.  A closet next to or in the laundry room would be better, but, we’ve got what we’ve got. Second, the two smallest children’s bars are at their height so they can reach it. Before, they were too high for them to reach.  This allows them to be able to he with putting away and getting out their clothes. Third, there are less folded clothes.  They all were assigned one drawer in my room for only socks, underwear, and nighties. Fourth, because there is limited space in this closet we had to store our seasonal clothes in another location.  This prevented the kids from messing with those clothes.  They would often use them for dress up, or just wrongly believe that a sweater could be worn in 100 degree weather or shorts in 45 degree weather.

Because of the reclaimed closets, I was able to use my storage in a way that made more since for us.  Like I mentioned, I was able to dedicate one closet to unused clothing storage.  Another closet was dedicated to craft and school supplies, and another to toys.  Two of their rooms don’t have closets in the room, but instead in the hallway.  This made since for storing community items like toys and supplies. 

One other change that came about was I now keep a box in the laundry room for clothes that don’t fit.  When the box is full, or overflowing as it is now, I sort through it, bag up what is going to Goodwill, label the box with clothing size, put it in the storage closet, and replace it with an empty box.  I have no need to save boys clothes because my youngest is the only boy, and there is no reason to save the youngest girls clothes.  Now there is no reason to save my older girl’s clothes because her body type is so different from my younger daughter.  Most everything will now just go to Goodwill or another charity.  

The form that our family closet takes right now won’t always fit our needs.  I can see that my oldest daughter will very soon want her own closet back for privacy reasons.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  I really like having her clothes there, but this closet fits us now only because the two smaller children have small clothes.  As everyone grows I don’t see how I am going to make it work.  There may be remodeling in our future.  A closet attached to the laundry room? 


Before doing the laundry we collect it from the usual spots.  Most of the time it is all located in my room, but we do have to check the other bedrooms and common areas, including the car, because people undress in the oddest places. 

I sort it into lights, darks, underwear and socks, sheets and towels, special care, and usually there is enough for a red load or two depending on how long it has been since I did the laundry.  I start with what is needed most, usually underwear. 

I don’t do any presoaking usually, but I think I am going to start incorporating this into my routine, especially when it comes to underwear and socks.  They never get as white as I would like, but I don’t want to use too much bleach.  Hopefully, presoaking will help with this.


As I said, I start with what is needed most and just go from there.  I am very careful not to use too much detergent.  I was trained to use the amount the container recommended, but in recent years I have found that you can go with about half as much.  I wash most of our clothes in cold unless really smelly and then I just use warm.  I wash underwear in hot. 

I am also careful as to how many clothes I wash in one load.  My washer is pretty good, but I can’t use the maximum load because they just don’t get the agitation necessary to really get clean.  Luckily, I still get a large load in because our washer has an extra-large basket.


The clothes line is my preferred way to dry most items.  This saves our family a significant amount of money every month.  About $30 a month when I use it full-time.  I don’t do much line drying in the winter.  If my line was a little closer to my back door I would, but as it stands, I would risk breaking my neck.  I do dry towels and underwear/socks in the dryer.  My family HATES when I dry undies outside.  I do occasionally pin them to hangers and just let them dry in the laundry room or shower.  I gave up on drying towels outside.  I HATE how rough they end up. 

Instead of pinning the clothes to the line, I hang the clothes on hangers and put the hangers on the line, held in place by one pin so it doesn’t slide.  I don’t actually pin the hanger, I just place the hanger next to the pin. This saves so much time.  I used to spend lots of time hanging the clothes on the line. The novelty of this wore off after about a month.  I still hang sheets and large items the traditional way. 

Back to Storage

After clothes are dry I put them away into the family closet.  It is quick to grab them off the line and put them right into the closet.  Before I had to spend another 20 or 30 minutes to take them off, bring them in, fold or hang, and put away.  Often we would do this before bed and I would just not put them away. 

My biggest problem as a homemaker is not finishing my projects.  The easier I can make a project, or the smaller I can break a project down, the more likely I am to complete it.  This goes back to my laziness levels.  I make fun of being lazy, but really, I have so many things I would rather be doing like learning, blogging, spending time with the kids, taking a nap…lol…anything is better than chores.