Scheduling Over the Summer

For the past several years, I have prepared a Summer Schedule and revised Chore Chart for our family.  We try to use the summer months to get home projects done, have more fellowship times, attend activities outside the home and even some years we are preparing for new babies {as is the case this year}.  I have found that without a schedule our family is less productive and our home has been less orderly.  I usually try to have a new schedule ready BEFORE the end of our school year, however that did not happen this year, making the past couple of weeks much looser than we are accustomed to.

Today {Welcome First Day of Summer}, I took the time needed to compile an updated Summer 2011 Daily Schedule and Summer 2011 Chore Chart.  With these in place, there will be consistancy in getting done the things that should be done each day and the freedom to have more spontaneous outtings {as our home should be in easily maintained over the long haul}.  Our schedules have always served as a guide versus a task master.  Let's face it, know one knows what tomorrow holds, but far better to have a plan in place {especially with a larger family} than not to.

You may be wondering "Why do you schedule...especially over the summer months when most people are taking advantage of the down time from school and extra-curricular commitments?"  Well, here are some of our reasons:
  • Provides a guide for getting those daily responsibilities done and if they are written down, they are more likely to happen.
  • Provides continued opportunity for training our children in important life skills which will equip them as they grow older and have homes of their own one day.
  • Provides opportunities to extend hospitality.
  • Provides opportunities to learn something new, through home projects, community classes or other venues that the school year may not provide time for.
  • Provides time to learn a trade {or stay polished on what they have previously learned} for each of our three oldest sons, as they work with their father one day a week in our family business
  • Accountability ~ if it is written down then we are more likely to commit the time to do those things and not waste time doing others.
  • Children thrive when they have routines to them a sense of security.

Another question you may be wondering is, "Why does your family have a Chore Chart...Why does each member of the family have chores?"  We believe,
  • chores are ways of teaching life skills, further equipping our children to be contributors as they grow older.
  • chores provide a sense of value to each child, seeing that they are an important part of the family dynamics of caring for one another and our home.
  • chores allow for developing character:  diligence, cheerfulness, dependability, attention to details, following directions, obedience, stewardship of time and possessions, thoroughness, etc.
  • chores allow our home to be kept orderly {as best as possible with soon-to-be 10 in it}, which enables us to extend hospitality to others.
  • the Lord has blessed us with a home and we are to be good stewards over it ~ therefore taking care of it for as long as we are here.
  • that even our young children can do simple things to help which once again teaches them skill and grows their character to be more servant minded versus self minded.
  • we each have a responsibility to contribute to the daily tasks necessary to manage our home...many members, one body.  :-) 
I have gleaned from many people over the years {and continue to}, as I seek to manage our home and train our children as the Lord equips me to do so.  For resources that I have found helpful and to read more about time management ,you can click here or for past schedules/charts click here.  If you are interested in seeing what this Summer's Schedule looks like you may click here.  I hope these post/schedules provide you practical ideas that you can use in your own homes and encouragment to write down a basic summer schedule if you have been contemplating doing so.

May this summer provide your family time to
  • grow together,
  • work together and
  • love deeply. 
It is a blessing to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave a comment with any scheduling tips, resources or questions you may have...I am always exited to implement ideas that will make our home more orderly, productive and inviting, as well as help others to do the same.

Blessings this summer ~

Motherhood ~ A Sacrificial Calling with a Future Reward

Do you ever have days of doubt?  Of discouragement?  Of down right tears?  Well, if you are a mother, the answer to that question is probably yes.  A couple days ago, was "my" day for all of those things. 

It seemed that all that was being attempted, encountered brick walls.  Relationships were strained.  Efforts to accomplish home projects, daily home maintenance, and the simplest of tasks seemed to encounter resistance from those being asked for help {i.e. husband, children}.  What's a girl to do?  I did what I don't do very often...cried!  I could not seem to do anything else.  Though I try as I might, my efforts seemed to be in vain.

Of course, then the enemy takes advantage of the opportunity he was given and planted deceptive lies in my mind:

  • Why is only going to get dirty again!
  • You always expect too can't even reach your own expectations and yet you put them on your husband...your children {very true...I do have high expectations for myself and my family...justifying such as biblically based}
  • Who cares if the soffit and gutters get cleaned? JUST YOU...
  • Who cares if the school closet is organized?  JUST YOU...
  • Who cares if the x, y & z are done?  JUST YOU...
  • Look at your have failed in training them to obey, respect, honor, cheerfulness, {just fill in the blank with any character trait}...
Next, the self-pity comes in to play and you start believing these things.  You are so close to the problem {your own sinfulness} "you can't see the forest for the trees".  So hard to self reflect {examine yourself}.  So difficult to renew the mind when you hit a pit of doubt, discouragement, and little faith.  So difficult to "take every thought captive".  So difficult to receive grace at times like these.

It took a day of withdrawal...not without affecting those that I love, however...before the Lord gripped my heart.  Although, there was physical retreat from those around me, I still made dinner {and a couple for others...isn't ministry to others a way to take your eyes off yourself?}, keep tasks done that were needed...but in my heart I withdrew.  {Not good...instead, I should have RUN to the Lord, receiving the grace He He did.  Zach ran out to Wendy's and brought home lunch for the children and me {unbeknownst to me}, a dozen red roses and chocolate as an offering of grace and love...the children just wanted to give heart was aching and I just found it made it worse to receive those things, making me cry all the more.} 

I couldn't receive grace ~ grace undeserved ~ but is that not what the Lord has done through salvation?  Extended grace to a wretch...a worthless worm as the famous hymn says...from a person who's offerings are but filthy rags to Him.  Is that not the beauty of grace?  It isn't can't be earned or is a FREE GIFT to one who doesn't deserve it! 

Well, with a humble heart I asked the Lord to forgive me and to continue to sanctify me in this calling of motherhood.  I revisited those questions above and spoke truth into them.

  • Why is only going to get dirty again!
    • TRUTH:  It is only going to get dirty again, BUT it is through doing these tasks and training the children to do these tasks that character is formed.  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  1 Corinthians 10:17
  • You always expect too can't even reach your own expectations and yet you put them on your husband...your children {very true...I do have high expectations for myself and my family...justifying such as biblically based}
    • TRUTH:  It's not just the expectations, it's the motives ~ are my motives PURE and seeking to please the Lord or are they to please men?  "By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything."  1 John 3:19-20
  • Who cares if the soffit and gutters get cleaned? JUST YOU...
  • Who cares if the school closet is organized? JUST YOU...
  • Who cares if the x, y & z are done? JUST YOU...
    • TRUTH:  "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise, without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." Proverbs 6:6-8 {We are not here to be slothful in our work...we are to be diligent, preparing for tomorrow and being an example to our children in how we do our work.  With another baby being added in the upcoming weeks, the fact of the matter is:  things DO need to be done.}
  • Look at your have failed in training them to obey, respect, honor, cheerfulness {just fill in the blank with any character trait}...
    • TRUTH:  I, just like my children, fall short in my heavenly Father's eyes.  Do I not need to be reminded?  Do I still stumble and repeat lessons I should have learned?  Does my Father not still chasten me?  The training of children is the same.  As a loving mother, I must press on in teaching them in the love and admonition of the that when they are old they will not depart from that teaching.  {Deut. 6:7; Prov. 22:6}
Being a mother is a labor of love.  It is not a calling with instant gratification or an immediate reward.  It is one that is slow, repetitive, challenging, long-term, requiring discipline, diligence, grace, prayer, long-suffering, humility, wisdom, love... 

Thankfully, motherhood is not a calling without a guidebook or support.  We have a Book to turn to for wisdom, truth, encouragement, instruction, hope...the Holy Bible.  We have One who cares about what we do...discipling the next generation {motherhood is a work of missions}, the struggles, fears, discouragement we encounter {He is always there with us...He is our intercessor and does hear our prayers.  He sends us support through His Word and His people.} 

Renewing my mind with these truths {and so many more...}:

  • But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it -- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  Romans 3:21-25
  • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1
  • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18
  • So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6
  • She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  Proverbs 31:28-29
Further encouragement arrived in my inbox this morning from a friend...a recommended read for any mother who may be having "one of those days" and needs a reminder of why motherhood is a mission field...
And then reminders of the many joys of motherhood...
Humbly in Christ ~

Menu Plan Monday

This past week provided time for some much needed cleaning & organizing. So, with the help of one of my sons to so the heavy moving and high reaching things, we set out over two days to empty my master bedroom & master bedroom closet. Having everything vacuumed & dusted thoroughly, purging of books {that’s always a hard one for me}, gift supplies & re-organization of movies/documentaries, gift-giving cabinet and a general putting everything in its place...the project is complete. It is once again a space enjoyable to be in without the distraction of ‘stuff’.

A couple changes/additions:

  • The purchase of a video cabinet from Target on sale for…$24.99. It nicely houses the video library {which I had categorized and labeled last year} and hopefully will be a neater solution from what we had been using {that was broken and not very practical.}
  • A glider and ottoman {similar to this one} found for a great deal on Craigslist…perfect for rocking our precious baby in several weeks. The condition was LIKE-NEW, with no signs of any use or wear. An oak wood and cream fabric, making it fit right in to any d├ęcor and Lord willing, provide years of use.
  • Several more bags for Goodwill…constant changes in seasons of life, provide on going opportunities to re-evaluate the need for items and extend life to new owners through way of donation.
As a reward, we took advantage of a summer discount offered to the zoo…$2 per person admission…a GREAT savings for our family! For $16 our whole family, along with some friends, ventured an hour away for a morning at the zoo. We covered a lot of ground, enjoyed fellowship time with friends we saw there and then concluded the journey with an ‘in-the-van’ picnic lunch. The humidity and heat really kicked in, so the idea of staying outside the rest of the day was changed to time back at our home swimming, playing and enjoying friends. A blessed day, despite the afternoon heat and smoke {Florida fires…praise the Lord for some much needed rain we received yesterday afternoon!}

Dinner plans for the week are written out…{note to self:  work on a new menu rotation chart for the upcoming year…a summer to-do item}…and we’re off to a good start.

Sunday: We had tortilla night…homemade, whole wheat tortillas filled with homemade salsa, refried beans, yellow rice and cheese…a family FAVORITE!

Recipe is super easy and fresh:  3-4 tomatoes, 1/4 - 1 Vidalia onion, 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, 2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic, small can of green chiles, 2 tablespoons of crushed red chili powder, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (dry), sea salt & pepper to taste.  Chop 1st 3 ingredients to preferred texture, mix last 6 into  mixture...YUM, YUM!

Monday: I prepared Sloppy Joe's in the crock-pot before we left for the zoo yesterday and had a great and simple dinner last night ready and waiting to be eaten. This was served with fruit and chips.

Tuesday: Poppy-seed chicken over bow tie pasta, buttered peas and whole wheat bread {baked later today with the help of Alyssa}

Wednesday: Easy lasagna, mixed veggies and fresh garden salad {items yielded from our garden [read our garden post here}: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, shredded radish and then added green onions and a cucumber from the grocery}

Thursday: Baked chicken, mashed potatoes or maybe parsley-buttered potatoes, steamed broccoli, rolls

Washed chicken placed in my stoneware baker, sprinkled with paprika, black pepper, garlic herb seasoning, a little thyme and a little sea salt to be baked at 325 degrees - foiled covered - for about 2 hours...fall off the bone tender!

Friday: Homemade pizzas - click for recipe link & scroll to the bottom for pizza specific notes {toppings of crushed pineapple with diced ham and another with Italian chicken sausage}

Saturday: Quick and easy…Lord willing, working on concrete slab/sidewalks so a simple meal will be aimed for this day

Sunday: Father’s Day Dinner…baked pork chops with tomato gravy served over rice, steamed California blend veggies, homemade biscuits {from last week's menu...since it's a dad favorite and it didn't happen last week...}

Blessings to you as you gather around your meal table this week ~

To read other Menu Plans, click here…thanks for hosting each week, Laura!

Spring Garden of 2011 ~ Successes & Failures

Spring 2011 Garden

We added a fourth raised bed this year to house corn & peas.  My husband screwed PVC pipe over the box and draped netting over the arches to keep pesky squirrels away.  This photo shows our sprouts coming up in the beginning of April.
The beginning sprouts from left to right:  2 rows of lettuce, 1 row of okra, 2 rows of broccoli (did not come in), 2 rows of radishes, 2 rows of yellow squash, 1 row (2 plants) of kiwi from previous year and along the backside of the bed, 1 row of cucumbers.
Another raised bed holding:  l to r ~ grapevine to grow over the arbor, cherry tomato, Roma tomato (not shown to the right of the tomatoes ~ 1 yellow pepper plant & 1 orange pepper plant).  {Beginning of April 2011}

To the right of the previous pictured planter we have 3 blueberry bushes and 1 blackberry vine along the trellis.  {Beginning of April 2011}

A couple of the herbs in our herb planter...thyme & dill weed.  {Beginning of April 2011}
Rosemary...continuing to flourish from the past couple of years and located in the middle of our herb planter.  {Beginning of April 2011}
DELICIOUS blueberries eaten as quickly as they ripened...taken the beginning of May 2011.
Our two tomato bushes {l - cherry tomato & r - Roma tomato} a month later...beginning of May 2011.  
The presence of blackberries...these to will disappear as quickly as they ripen.  We are blessed to have MANY wild blackberry bushes growing in vacant areas of our neighborhood and have taken advantage of picking a couple of buckets full over the season.  {Beginning of May 2011}
One of the lettuce plants growing behind the protective netting...this was a successful endeavour.  {Beginning of May 2011}
Promising blooms from our yellow squash plants...beginning of May 2011.
Promising blooms from our cucumber vine...beginning of May 2011.
Our corn is coming in nicely and still intact thanks to the Lord's protection and the netting that remains over the planter box...beginning of May 2011.
The peas coming in nicely, too....beginning of May 2011.

Better boy tomatoes growing from one of the two topsy turvy containers hanging between two of the raised beds...beginning of May 2011.  These make for delicious here for the post containing the recipe.
The cherry and Roma tomato plants have grown wonderfully this year and continue to yield {without any bugs} nice amounts of fresh organic tomatoes for our family.  {Mid June 2011}
Our okra (planted one row) has flowered and is producing a nice pod on the plants now.  Not sure when to harvest or what to do with them at this point...our first time growing it, but looking forward to harvesting and tasting the fruits of our labor soon.  {Mid June 2011}
As lovely as all those blooms were in the photo mid-way up, we have about 4 nice squash growing currently...between heat, smoke, not sure what else, this has taken a toil so it seems.  Beautiful squash for what we do have so far, though.  {Mid-June 2011}
One of many cucumbers that have grown pest free...but the only one that resembles a normal cucumber.  ;-)  Our other either look like balls or paisleys...interesting and not quite sure why...any ideas?  They did the same thing last year as far as shape.  If you look in the distance behind this one, you can see a couple of the ball shaped ones.  {Mid-June 2011}
Cherry tomatoes full and ripening...Mid-June 2011.
Roma tomatoes also lush and ripening steadily...Mid-June 2011.

  • I will say, unlike last year, this year we have not had issues with as many pests...the tomatoes in the ground have actually yielded much more than the ones in the hanging upside down containers.
  • Lettuce has done wonderfully, as well.
  • Blueberries yielded quite a bit considering they were new (small) bushes, however after last year one of the bushes died, so we'll have to see if these will continue to grow or not.
  • Blackberries...already an ample supply in our area growing wild, but our private vine produced larger ones and not quite as bitter tasting.
  • Corn has done better this year for the simple fact that the squirrels were not able to get into the crop.  We have 3-5 ears growing now and will just have to wait to see what the final outcome it.

  • Cucumbers...not necessarily a failure, but definitely not the "normal" shape and only one seems to be doing what a cucumber should in the way of growth.
  • Broccoli...did not come up at all.
  • Raspberry vines...did not come back from last year.
  • Peas...aphids have been an issue even though we treated with 'green/natural' methods to rid the problem.  Also no blooms on the vines, although the vines themselves have nice leaves and are continuing to grow.
  • Yellow squash...started out wonderfully and we do have 3-4 nice sized squash growing now, it just doesn't look like we will yield as much as anticipated from earlier progress.
  • Kiwi...year two and still no fruit with sparse leaves.
Still to be determined:
  • Our pepper plants are still growing...slowly.  We'll see what produces on them.
  • Grapevine is filling back in with nice sized green leaves, but no fruit yet.
  • Radishes...should be fine, but have not harvested yet.
  • Okra...doing well as far as I can tell.  Will see what the actual harvest is when they are done producing.
Things we will do differently next year:
  • Plant yield more.
  • Better soil prep...more compost added (Lord willing), turning more in the down season...any ideas for further enriching it?
  • Moving one of our raised beds to the front of the herb garden for more sun light next year {the new bed which houses our corn and peas} probably gets too much afternoon shade right now.
So, that's our Spring Garden of 2011 thus far...a photo journal so-to-speak.  I would love to hear any recommendations or successes you have had, especially if you are in Florida and deal with the same issues we do (heat, bugs, sandy soil, etc.).  :-)

Happy Gardening ~

May & June in Pictures...

The days these past couple of months have been full and flying by.  We have had times of work {lots of those}, times of play and times of fellowship...hope this pictorial post sums it up.

Great season of Spring Flag Football...they played hard and Logan really enjoyed it!

Austin's final Youth Orchestra concert of the season...always a beautiful evening and encouragement listening/watching young musicians play together.

Our garden...Lord willing I'll get around to do a garden post.  The blueberries were eaten as fast as they ripened!  Check back for more pics in the future ~ Our Spring Garden 2011 future post.

The battle of tree roots during our Backyard Makeover...all in the name of fence installation!  Seemed like the majority of the back fence section encountered and involved digging deep to remove tree roots from trees removed; fence posts to be put almost exactly were the massive root system remained. 

Picnic & evening of delightful Symphony Orchestra music in the park ~ a break from the laboring and basking in beautiful sounds of music.

Preparing the ground for the above ground pool placement...root/debris removal, added dirt, leveling, and edging for the stone to border the pool area.  Hard workers ~ but happy ones.  :-)

Our pre-sod photo...oh my, was the dirt black and how everything crossing over it was, too.  So glad to have real grass, a play area for get-togethers and a smaller side yard with grass for the playsets and fort!  {And what a blessing to have another young man's assistance with the laying of it...he, too, slept well that night!} 

Enjoying the fruits of all the labor ~ a wonderful refreshment on these humid summer FL days!

A sweet time of fellowship Memorial Day weekend at a friend's home...time of prayer giving thanks to those who served our country protecting our freedoms {and for those who currently are}, worship and afternoon fellowship.

A beautiful time visiting with a dear friend ~ celebrating her birthday!  {Zach arrived a bit later due to a meeting a work.}

More work in the work finishing the roof to the kids fort.  Hours of fun to be enjoyed by all the little ones {as a result to skills and labor to get it all done}.

Another fun water element added to the backyard ~ has been great for watering flowers, filling foot washing tubs and gives a glimpse of days gone by when water had to actually be pumped and carried.  ;-)

Reusing/re-purposing wood from the deck we have become benches for the backyard and horseshoe pit areas.  Austin took this project on himself and has constructed 3 benches thus far...with staining to come soon.

I'll have to try to post a picture of the backyard as it is now...nearing completion.  Still a couple elements to take care of before we can say DONE, but it is so much better and we are just loving the safety, opportunities and privacy the new backyard provides.  Lots of labor, lots of good nights sleeping, lots of skills learned and looking forward to lots of use and enjoyment!

So, if you add a few more fellowship times, a couple more birthday celebrations, closing the 2010-2011 school year {before some start summer classes} and more work, that gives you a glimpse of what's being going on for the past couple months in our home.  Looking forward to enjoying the days of summer break, planning for next year and the arrival of #8. 

Blessings ~

In all toil there is profit...Proverbs 14:23a
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might...Ecclesiastes 9:10a