Waiting on the Lord...

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot. 
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me. 
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure. 
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption. 

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:5-11

A family shot while we witnessed the passing of Hurricane Irene along the Florida coast.
Thursday, August 25, 2011

We have been in the birthing window (as I like to call it) for a couple of weeks now.  I continue to grow in the belief that due dates are man’s guess…the Lord has the perfect day appointed for the birth of any little one. I am growing in this area, which for the “scheduler” I am, has been a stretch for me. To release control of timing of a blessing’s arrival to the Lord (the better place to be) is a process that has taken me several births to reach. I no longer “share” our due date but instead provide a round-about time to inquirers (even family and close friends). So much pressure is released as I have moved in this direction, so if a due date comes and goes, so be it.  {FYI...Our experience is our sonography is fairly accurate and we have only had one out of our seven children born thus far pass the "due date"...so this process for me isn't that I have encountered great disappoints, but more releasing it over to the Lord, who is truly the one who has appointed the day a child will be born...I am willfully choosing to rest in that knowledge...although some days are harder than others.} 

My body is preparing for her birth…a normal, slow process that accelerates as the delivery time draws near. In the meantime, it is not hard to stay busy with a houseful of children and having started our list of preparations several months ago, there is always something to work on, so the time does fly. My 6 page To-Do List of things (some big projects, some minor) I hoped to get done before she comes is drawing to an end and is about 95% complete. Having our home organized, clean and our school year underway allows for peace. Taking time to be still each day has allowed me to enjoy the blessing of pregnancy and to be in awe of the gift of life from the Lord. To know He has formed this child and prepared each of her days according to His perfect will is something I draw joy in knowing. I, as the rest of our family, all look forward to meeting her soon.

Reflecting back, there have been days of challenge…days where hormones or pregnancy discomforts or discouragement have factored in. Those days are few in comparison to the big picture though. And amazingly {I should not be amazed at the Lord's mercy and provision...but yet, I still am.}, the Lord always seems to provide mercy on those difficult days ~ whether through the kindness of a friend or my children or husband or in His Word ~ provision to renew, to regroup, to reclaim truth. 

I really am in awe of what the Lord has done and continues to do in our home, family and lives. Looking back to our early days of marriage with only one child…no plans for more...to where He has brought us is such a transforming work. Our home is full BUT not overfull…there is life, living and love that fill these walls and each child brings such a sweet addition to it. Each with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Each with special interests and giftings that shape them into who the Lord desires them to be. Each providing us opportunities to grow and be sanctified as parents, to grow in love, patience, humility, and joy. Each one going through various seasons of life, as they learn to lean on the Lord during times of challenge and rejoice during times of reflection as they see His faithfulness in their lives.

As I wait for the Lord and His appointed day to meet our newest little one, I encourage you all to take a few moments and reflect on the goodness of the Lord in your own lives…the gift of the children He has given you…they grow fast.

The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.  Psalm 95:5
A reminder of His sovereignty in our lives and over His creation...

Because of Him ~

Homeschooling Plan and Curriculum Choices this Year...

My method of teaching and curriculum choices have been flexible over the years due to what season of life our family may be in...the freedom of homeschooling in Florida.   I enjoy and our children thrive on a thematic approach, however this has not always been doable over the years.  We try to instill a "delight for learning" and provide opportunities to further enrich their interests in addition to the learning schedules...such as time to pursue learning about things like the Civil War, military branches, government, Presidents, football, lawn-care, archery, etc.

We have used some core curriculum consistently such as Saxon, ABeka and Apologia as we have found these to be thorough and give a good foundation {however, there are certain years we utilize them...not every year for every child}.   For example, with ABeka, we have used the video curriculum option for K-2nd for the past 4 children as it lays a good reading/phonics foundation.   I usually begin using Saxon in the 6th grade through high school {with the exception of the Senior year being Math-U-See's Stewardship curriculum...great program for covering math skills/topics needed for being a good steward before leaving home...whenever that may be :-)}.   Apologia is typically used from 8th grade beyond, however this year we are using their Astronomy curriculum with our 11 year old son.

This year's plan is below and a notation has been made to the amount of time allotted for each subject, just in case it may be helpful to someone out there.  :-)

Austin working on his Apologia Biology for the day.  He will be taking out the microscope later to work on a science experiment.
Austin (15) ~

Bible/Worldview ~ Starting Points by David Quinine (will also incorporate Writing and Reading) {1 hour daily}

Math ~ Algebra 2 D.I.V.E. and Saxon Algebra 2 {1 hour 15 minutes daily}

Science ~ Apologia Biology (with supplemental lectures through Virtual Homeschool Group…Lord willing) {1 hour 15 minutes daily}

American Literature ~ S.O.S. (Switched on Schoolhouse) {45 minutes daily}

Spanish 1 ~ S.O.S. (Switched on Schoolhouse) {45 minutes daily}

Music ~ participation in our local youth orchestra twice per week plus daily practice (cello) {30 minutes of daily practice, plus 2 -4 hours twice per week at orchestra}

The rubber banded books are assigned reading materials for the Starting Points curriculum...grouped together by semester...I think there are 10-12 books he will do select readings from during this Biblical Worldview study.
An extra hour is allotted within our daily schedule for Austin to use to finish any assignments from the day, if he needed more time than he had allotted.   Otherwise, this time slot can be used for "Jobs for Hire", home-projects or entrepreneurship, or FREE-TIME.

Other topics will be learned using a natural approach through taking field trips, participating in local learning opportunities/classes/lectures and general life skills training through hands-on projects, working and living.  {Economics – managing his earnings, balancing his bank account, keeping within his budget, History – living history, reading good books, attending re-enactments/lectures, as well as the above subjects being complemented by this approach whenever possible.}

S.O.S. Elementary Spanish curriculum has gone well so far this year and Logan seems to enjoy this approach for learning another language.
Logan (11) ~

Bible/Character ~ The Narrow Way by Pearables {30 minutes daily with Mom}

Math ~ Saxon 7/6 {1 hour}

Science ~ Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy textbook and student notebooking journal {45 minutes Tuesdays-Friday}

Language Arts/Reading ~ Learning Language Arts through Literature tan book {will have a delayed start to using this curriculum…September, at which time 1 hour daily has been allotted}

Handwriting ~ A Reason for Handwriting book E {15 minutes daily}

Elementary Spanish ~ S.O.S. (Switched on Schoolhouse) {45 minutes daily}

Music ~ practicing the recorder and playing during family worship {on occasions during the year}

Other topics will be learned using a natural approach through taking field trips, participating in local learning opportunities/classes/lectures and general life skills training through hands-on projects, working and living.  {History – living history, reading good books, attending re-enactments/lectures, as well as the above subjects being complemented by this approach whenever possible.}

Kitchen table learning...I usually work with Logan & Alyssa a the kitchen table for Bible & Math, then they can move to other rooms for the remainder of the school work.

Alyssa (8) ~

Bible/Character ~ The Narrow Way by Pearables {30 minutes daily with Mom}

Math ~ ABeka Arithmetic 3 {30 minutes daily}

Science ~ ABeka Exploring God's World{15 minutes daily}

Reading ~ ABeka readers grade 3 {30 minutes daily, plus 45 minutes of additional quiet reading time daily}

Handwriting ~ A Reason for Handwriting book C {15 minutes daily}

Elementary Spanish ~ S.O.S. (Switched on Schoolhouse) {45 minutes daily}

Other topics will be learned using a natural approach through taking field trips, participating in local learning opportunities/classes/lectures and general life skills training through hands-on projects, working and living.  {Bright Lights Young Ladies Group – participation with other young ladies every other month using the Bright Lights’ curriculum to help develop godly character, Scripture memorization and hands-on activities, History – living history, reading good books, attending re-enactments/lectures, as well as the above subjects being complemented by this approach whenever possible.}

This little table was purchased from IKEA for the younger children to work at this year...$27 I think ~ a great deal!  The sweet bumble bee chairs I picked up from Lowe's last year on clearance for $4 each (now selling for $10).  The table and chairs are moved into our living room each morning and the three watch ABeka Bible video curriculum before Liz takes a morning nap, then the other two proceed with the rest of the video assignments (with my oversight & direction before/during the lessons).
Graham (5) & Kailynn (4) ~

This year I chose to use these clear plastic totes w/lids to store each child's school books and supplies.  I printed a name label for the front and they can easily be stored away after school work is completed {we do not have an "official" school room...our home is our learning room}.  See the next picture for a outside view of the tote and label.

Using ABeka Video curriculum for Kindergarten encompassing all the following areas: Bible, Reading Readiness, Phonics, Arithmetic/Numbers, Writing (Penmanship), Social Studies, Reading, Art and Enrichment Activities (learning songs, poems, motor skills development activities, etc.) {from about 8:30am until 12pm each day, with a snack break in the middle}

Although we have chosen to put the two children together using this curriculum, the focus is more on Graham than on Kailynn.  We believe she will glean just from regular participation, but some mornings will need to nap instead of doing “school” such was the case this morning after Bible time. 

Due to my season of life (which seems to be the same season of having children/nursing for the past several years), we have found the ABeka video curriculum works for us, providing consistency.  They have a great Phonics program which really helps the children learn to read early and our philosophy is if a child can read they can learn anything.  We desire to give them a good reading foundation, so have used ABeka video for K-2nd grades for the last 4 children {Logan, Alyssa, Graham & Kailynn}.  We began using the ABeka video curriculum when Austin entered the 2nd grade to help with his reading skills…8 years ago and only that year for him.  We also used ABeka English 1 & 2 video curriculum for our oldest {now in his senior year of college} during 9th & 10th grades, as a side note.

So, how have you chosen to pursue learning this year and what curriculum have you found to be a blessing to your family?  There is such a vast array of materials available, learning/teaching styles and opportunities we can all glean from, so please leave a comment and share a glimpse or link to a post about what you are doing.  May He bless your endeavors this year.

Blessings ~

Menu Plan Monday and One Thousand Gifts...

A new week on our new schedule {prior year's here} for this school year.  Thankful for the Lord's blessing and mercy thus far as we enter our second week of school.  Lessons were planned for the year before our start date last week {although it the last thing I finished}, chore charts and menu rotation plans were all printed and started prior to that.  Our home has been in a continually state of readiness as we spent the summer working on a backyard makeover, inside maintenance room-by-room, baby preparations and paper/book managing ~ out with the prior year and in with the new one.

Menu Plan Monday

I have chickens baking in the oven as I type, that's what's for dinner tonight.  Fresh asapragus substituted for the mixed veggies and rice.  I'll probably add some homemade chicken gravy to top the chicken and rice before it's all said and done.  The rest of the week holds:
  • Tuesday ~ Salisbury Steaks, mashed potatoes w/beef gravy, buttered corn & rolls
  • Wednesday ~ Poppy-seed chicken over buttered bow ties, peas n' pearl onions
  • Thursday ~ Spaghetti n' meatballs, Texas toast, applesauce
  • Friday ~ Mexican chicken over rice
Click here for a pictorial recipe post

This year {as with last}, I have a weekly breakfast menu, bi-weekly lunch menu and a four week rotation menu for dinner.  I took our snack menu from last year and added a morning snack time for our younger children then an afternoon snack time for all our children, both of which are weekly.

Today is a good day ~ all has gone well, with school work completed, beautiful {although hot} weather enjoyed this afternoon in the pool, meal times according to plan and even some time fit in for blogging.  A good day...with much to be grateful for.  Today I am also participating in Ann's Multitudes on Monday meme for posting an ongoing list of things we are grateful for...a place to cultivate a thankful heart.  I hope to add to my list often...1000 shouldn't be difficult for someone who's life has been redeemed, right?

Multitudes on Mondays ~ one thousand gifts @ a holy experience

1. fresh baked cookies

2. laughter of children

3. kind words on the other end of the phone

4. gentle movements in the womb from one who will be coming soon

5. worship songs from the lips of babes

6. prayer

7. blessing of a new school year and schedule…at HOME

8. clothes drying in the sun

9. family meals gathered all together around our table

10. a husband who’s home most Mondays

Blessings ~

From Ann:  "Will you join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts? Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post. Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!"

To view this year's menus, click over each one to pull up my scanned master copy.  To view other menu plans, hop over to Menu Plan Monday hosted by Laura at organized junkie.

How We Order our Days…Scheduling and Chores for a family of 10

Look carefully then how you walk, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slave too much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

There are MANY books and resources out there to help with this topic. Just type in the keywords “homeschool scheduling” and over 400,000 sites come up. “Chore charts”…133,000,000! I have gleaned over the years from the wisdom of several families who have gone before us and applied what was doable for our family. Each year is a new season and adjustments have to be made.

Every family has to do what works for them…some may have children in school outside the home, some may have active extra-curricular commitments, homeschooling one or many, some may have home businesses, or maybe the husband travels a lot. Whatever your season or specific circumstances you may find having a schedule {or as I like to look at it, a “guide” for what my best day may look like} and a chore chart {where everyone contributes to managing the home they live in} may be a helpful method for keeping things running smoothly.

Each year, I reassess where we are and what the upcoming year may hold for us. This year some of the changes in store for our family are: the blessing of another child {any time now}, additional commuting for our eldest to college classes and the obvious changes of our economic times which affect our home-based business in the construction industry.

Time management {scheduling, menu planning, chore charts, organizing} is something close to my heart and a topic I desire to minister to other families on. I am far from an “expert” on the subject; however I desire to provide encouragement, equipping and edifying to other families as they enter different seasons which may help them be better keepers of their homes. I recently hosted a Homeschool Mom’s Fellowship Night themed “It’s About Time”. It was a desire to come together with other homeschooling moms to encourage, equip and edify as well as glean from others.

At the Mom’s Night Fellowship, on the topic of chore charts {the first thing I revised for this coming year}, I covered how we do things. I distributed an “Age Appropriate Chores” list compiled utilizing a couple sources {no need to re-create the wheel} and my additions/notes. I shared past chore charts I created for our family. Since I have been scheduling/chore chart making for many years now, I simply go into my Microsoft Word program and make annual adjustments based on what the season of our life is that year.

After gleaning from “Managers of Their Homes” by Steve and Teri Maxwell, I started by making a chore chart.

1. The first step was to list EVERYTHING that needed to be done in a week.

2. I then calculated how long it would take to complete each task and what was an appropriate age for each one as I would assign them later.

3. The next step for me was to then begin to break down those chores as they would be assigned to each member of our family. For us, I found having a time in the morning {after breakfast ~ “Morning Chores”} and a time in the afternoon {before dad came home from work ~ “Afternoon Chores”} would work for us.

     a. Prior to breakfast and prior to bed we did “morning” and “bedtime” routines respectively. Morning routine included waking up, reading Bible, getting shower (if applicable)/dressed for the day, and making bed. Bedtime routine included picking up bedroom floor (if needed), having teeth brushed, PJ’s on and prayer with Dad.

4. Then I broke down what needed to be done each day and whether it would be best done in the morning or afternoon. My chore chart was done for Monday – Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon was/is reserved for activities or special projects and Sunday is our day of worship/rest.

5. After the list of chore items were broken down by assigned person & day, I created a table on Microsoft Word. {I prefer creating tables to making spreadsheets myself, but either would work if you chose to use this method.}

     a. I listed the headings across the top for each column as follows: Name of assigned person, then each day of the week through Saturday.

     b. My rows would then have, in age order, the first column down the name of each family member beginning with me and working down to the toddlers {not Dad since he works daily and also handles the extra maintenance items around the home).

     c. I then began plugging in the assigned chore for the day. {Clarification: I created two charts…one for morning and one for afternoon}

     d. Finally, I colored each row a different color to provide ease in viewing the chart and at a glance see who was responsible for what.

I have chosen not to assign tasks by the room on different days…a method used in Large Family Logistics. My method is to assign tasks based on frequency. For example, the dishes need to be done daily, laundry needs to be done daily, we choose to central vac daily, a quick wipe down of the main bathroom needs to be done daily, etc. Other tasks like dusting, straightening school closets or book cabinets, straightening dresser drawers, etc. are broken down by location and assigned one day a week per person. Other tasks may need two days per week…for us chores like: glass & mirror cleaning, taking trash/recycling to the road, etc. I know for us, if we chose only to do each room one day per week, the rest of our home would be out of order all week. When there are many people living in a small space, daily room assignments seem to keep our home in better order and clean.

This year's chore charts, daily schedules, college classes, extra-curricular schedules, etc. ~ all kept in front to back order in clear sheet protectors on our refrigerator for quick viewing.  {See the "Organizing and Time Management:  Part 2 post listed below for details on our "Command Center" ~ the hub of knowing the order of our days.}

I know it has been helpful for me to “see” a finished product and is an encouragement for how to apply what will work for us by viewing samples of someone else’s labor. I hope that you will be able to see and glean from some of our chore charts over the years and create a chart that suites your family’s season of life. I am also including a copy of the Age Appropriate Chores list I distributed at the Mom’s Fellowship Night to give you ideas.

Training is imperative in any task. BEFORE you put your plan into action, you should make sure that children have been taught “how to do” the task they are being assigned to do. If you do not train, but only expect a task to be done, then you are setting your children up for failure and yourself up for frustration. The initial investment you put into training a child to complete a task, will provide much reward for you and your child. To train, be sure you “show” your child how to do the task a couple of times, then shadow them with instruction as they do it and finally allow them to do it on their own with you following up to check on how they did. Provide positive affirmation on the things they have done well, BEFORE making a point of correction. We all need encouragement.

Helping with transferring laundry...
Assisting with bread making...

Cheerfully teaching a younger sibling how to vacuum...and excited to help

You might also want to post a step-by-step checklist inside a cabinet door or drawer for them to refer to each day/week. Pictures help younger children…just my 2 cents. Be sure that what you assign is checked daily and that you have consequences in place for not finishing a job or finishing one well. {Please don’t take consequence out of context or to an extreme.} If it is important enough for you to assign, it should be important enough for you to check and acknowledge. More than chores are being taught here…character is being built and important life skills are being learned to make each person {from the youngest to the oldest} know they are a valuable part/contributor to the family as a whole.


I would love to hear from you, as a veteran in chore charts or a mom just starting out. We all have much to learn from one another and your comments can be just what may help someone else. Do feel free to share what has worked for you. May the Lord bless your diligence to manage your home well and provide wisdom along the way.

Blessings in Him ~

This post is linked with Raising Olives: Managing Your Week ~ 4 Moms and Large Family Logistics.

If you have been encouraged and would like to keep up-to-date on future posts {family, homeschooling, menu planning, organizing, scheduling, etc.} won't you subscribe to follow via e-mail or join this site through Google Friend Connect under "Those Encouraged".  I'd love to visit you, too.