When the pumpkin pie turns out to be sweet potato pie

I don’t know about you, but I always have a perfect Thanksgiving Day locked in my head.  With lots of homemade foods and crafts.  Where the table looks like a picture out of Better Homes and Garden magazine.  Everyone is dressed in their finest clothing.  Table manners abound.

Yes all in my head.  And while I try to make Thanksgiving Day a special day for my family, I have come to the point where I know it is not worth stressing about!  My house never got clean.  In fact my dinning room needed about an hour more of good attention and floor scrubbing.  My kitchen was cleaned-for about 3 minutes between cooking.  Let’s not even talk about the kids bedrooms, the sunroom.  The living room was just cleaned yesterday and was cleaned again today.  And I am hoping there was toilet paper in the bathrooms cause I never checked.

My menu was planned.  I had shopped three times.  Seems I bought a 26 pound turkey.  It was on sale and I had a 20% off coupon.  There is just something about cooking on this day.  It’s more for the people that gather with us! And not so much for a perfect house.
It was our first Thanksgiving with our new foster daughter.  She could not wait to eat in our dinning room.  It was a first for our newest granddaughter and her mommy. My son joined along with them. My granddaughter Haddie and her mommy and aunt came. Our Vicar from church and his family came.

And while I knew what I had to do to get it done, I got sidetracked with some other things, and wasn’t feeling to great Wednesday.  So I knew the pumpkin pie wasn’t going to get made.  So I was going to cheat and buy one.  And pass it off to my kids as if mommy made one. (They would know I had not-but it was always fun to try).

Wednesday night I ran to the grocery store.  I got all the groceries from the car in the cold windy weather (that had come in as I was in the store!)  Thinking I had got everything I needed I started unpacking.  It was shortly after it was pointed out that I had gotten a sweet potato pie, and not pumpkin.  I could not believe it!  I got the pecan pie.  Cool Whip. But no pumpkin pie.

Robby, needing pumpkin pie was going to make one.  But I didn’t have every thing.  So Thanksgiving day he made pumpkin cheese cakes. We adapted and adjusted! Besides the mayo being bad for our deviled eggs and my gravy flop we had a great day!!

We did not buy anything Black Friday. I ended my Thanksgiving with a horrible migraine and Friday recovered from it. So in the afternoon I took the kids to see the Box Trolls movie and we adventured to Target just to see.

Tomorrow we will start decorating for Christmas and getting ready for Advent!! IMG_4335.JPG

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10 Things We Learned The First Week of Whole30

Whole30week1 for a family of 5

I had read about Whole30 a while ago from Once a Month Cooking.  Last month I stumbled upon on it again, did some research on it and sorta told my husband about it, and then announced at dinner we as a family were going to do Whole30 for 30 days starting August 2.  (August 1st was my birthday.) We as a family had one week to get ready . So here are 10 things we have learned about our family just the first week of Whole30.

1.  I had to cooked 3 meals a day for 7 days.  The kids LOVE this.  Most days breakfast was just cereal or Nutella on toast.  And lunch was a frozen meal or a can meal.  Yes I went all out.  But on Whole30, I have to actually cook.  And plan, which worked mostly ok.

2. With all that cooking came a LOAD of dirty dishes!  I felt overwhelmed with the dishes this week.  Just when I think we are finally getting caught up -I cook again!!

3.  We got new white dishes.  I bought white square dishes at Target.  Mainly cause they were a little bit deeper,and held salads well.  But we soon realized our food looks great on white!

4. We have shopped ALOT this week!  We needed to get our meat.  We did that mostly at Costco.  We are not a 100% organic or grass feed-but close enough.  This is a huge transition and it is not easy.  I have been to the store 4 other times for other items-mostly veggies and fruits.

5. Our kids are on board for the most part. The biggest thing for them at first was no sugar and wheat.  The second day there was cake at church and   two of my three kids did well with no cake.  Isaiah was sad and mad he could not have no cake.  But he didn’t eat one.  They drink water and eat what we give them.  Isaiah has cheated….but we kinda expected that!

6.  Eggs are our friend! You eat a lot of eggs.  Good thing my kids LOVED eggs already!  Boiled eggs are a great on the go food.  It seems we have been through 9 dozen eggs the first week!!!

7. Fruit Salad-Yummy Yummy! Robby grew up with the Wiggles and we have been eating a LOT of fruit!  Well not too much-but more than normal and I bought a far share of fruit.  But now the kids like to make fruit salad-cause they like being involved in the cooking process!  Which is a little hard for me cause I like to sometimes be alone in the kitchen.

8.  We are eating at the dinning room table! – For a long time we ate at the kitchen table. Then only kids and the adults in the living room.  Then I don’t know what happened when Whole30 started.   We starting this week eating at the dinning room table.  And the one day we were not, the kids were disappointed-so we did.

9.  We are not eating out and no Starbucks! This is big for our family.  Cause remember #1, one of the reasons why I didn’t cook all the time was cause we also ate out a lot!  And I drank Starbucks a LOT.  I am good with coffee black!

10.  I am feeling better. First week was a rocky road.  It was hard.  Some days I felt like crap.  I felt much better by day 7. I am seeing a difference in the kids and my husband! So we will pushed through the next three weeks and decided where we are going from there!

We can do this!!

Here are some of the dishes I cooked for my family!

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First Shopping Trip of Many for Whole30

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Roasted sweet potato, bacon, sweet onion and spinach -For breakfast

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Simple Breakfast

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Kid’s Favorite Lunch-Taco Salad

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Our Anniversary Dinner -Coconut crusted fish, mango and pineapple and grilled squash

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Cherry’s while they were on sale!!!

 

 

 

 


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100 Things to do This Summer: 2014

For the past few years, my kids now look forward to our 100 Things to do This Summer!  This year I worked to put a few new things in that I knew everyone would love! Hope you love our new list! I made the one I am sharing with you a bit more generic.  We plan to visit the Space and Rocket center and SciQuest.  I just put in those spots visit a museum of some kind!  See what is around your area!  We have membership to many of the area attractions so we can go often.  Also I made sure that some of the things on our list could “just be done.”  Like #70-blowing bubbles.  (make sure you keep bubbles on hand!)  Tomorrow I am going to post my 25 Things Mom need to do this Summer!

  1. Visit a children’s  museum
  2. Go swimming
  3. Explore a National Park
  4. Explore a cave
  5. Go fishing
  6. Go camping
  7. Make Rainbow Bubble Snakes
  8. Volunteer
  9. Play and learn at science museum
  10. Visit the Amish
  11. Explore something old
  12. Sing and dance
  13. Go canoeing
  14. Do nothing
  15. Make a kite
  16. Run through the sprinklers
  17. Catch lighting bugs
  18. Grow a salsa garden
  19. Grow flowers
  20. Goto the movies
  21. Read a lot
  22. Play catch
  23. Kick a soccer ball
  24. Go for evening walks
  25. Have a game night with friends
  26. Play video games
  27. Go visit a Botanical Gardens
  28. Water Paint
  29. Play miniature golf
  30. Create Lip Gloss
  31. See a water fall
  32. Have a tea party
  33. Swing High
  34. Look at the clouds
  35. Go on a picnic with friends
  36. Make a sand castle
  37. Go for ice cream in PJ’s
  38. Make magic Mud
  39. Make a Summer bag
  40. Start a summer  journal
  41. Skip count
  42. Go hiking
  43. Feed the birds
  44. Sing a song in church
  45. Go visit an Aquarium
  46. Learn to juggle
  47. Go to a farmers market
  48. Go on bike rides
  49. Play Go Fish
  50. Explode a 2 liter of coke with Mento’s
  51. Play hopscotch
  52. Build a house of cards
  53. Write a song
  54. Send Post Cards
  55. Cook dinner
  56. Tie die shirts
  57. Draw
  58. Goto the zoo
  59. Wonder about stuff
  60. Plan a BBQ picnic
  61. Make banana splits
  62. Sew
  63. Make popsicles
  64. Draw with sidewalk chalk
  65. Put together a puzzle
  66. Make play dough
  67. Each kid cooks dinner
  68. Make a self portrait
  69. Go Bowling
  70. Blow bubbles
  71. Have a water balloon fight
  72. Wash the car
  73. Set off fireworks
  74. Paint a rock
  75. Huge Slip n’ Slide
  76. Goto a county fair
  77. Attend a concert outside
  78. Make fresh OJ
  79. Find a fossil
  80. Send a care package
  81. Create a bird journal
  82. Make Jello Silly Putty
  83. Try something new
  84. Make a large checker board
  85. Jump on a trampoline
  86. Make something new
  87. Goto a water park
  88. Go out with daddy and mommy
  89. Build a fort
  90. Goto a VBS
  91. Make jewelry
  92. Have a marshmallow war
  93. Plan a party
  94. Write a book
  95. Call Grandparent
  96. Walk in grass barefoot
  97. Play on a playground
  98. Make homemade ice cream
  99. Take Sunday Drives
  100. Sleep in

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Click here to print out a list!  100 Things to do This Summer 2014 


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Family and Emergency First Aid Kits

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As we are approaching the 3rd anniversary of the 2011 Tornado outbreak we all went through, being prepared is on my mind.  In fact after the tornado’s hit-being prepared was being pushed every where.  Sorta like after any natural disaster.  After ours, I bought a Red Cross first aid kit-special from Target- along with a natural disaster kit .  IMG_6696 IMG_6697 IMG_6698

The blue first aid kit on the table was one I bought at Costco for our camper RV about 8 years ago.  I found it in our garage while cleaning.  I was going to throw it away cause it look old and yucky.  But I am glad I didn’t, cause much I was able to save!  I had to get rid of all the medicine and creams.  Then I put all the stuff I pulled, into baggies.

From all of that I created an “on the go first aid kit.”  I also add items like hydrogen peroxide, insect bit cream, sunscreen and aloe, hand wipes, baby and kid pain meds,  and a few other items.

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The red first aid kit in the Target Red Cross kit, is ready to go!  I did have to throw away some medicine that was out of date.  Keeping our medicine cabinet organized is important. This is a great time to go through your medicine and discard any old prescriptions or medicine.   That way we can really grab what we need if we really had to evaluate fast.  Also I kept an on the go bag for the car and activities on the run.  That tote needs to be redone for this summer.

You can put together your own first aid kit, or buy one.  Add to your emergency first aid kit slowly if money is an issue.  Watch for great sales.  I got a lot of Band Aids this week at Target on Sale.  Wholesale ware houses are a great place.   Check out my Pinterest board for awesome ideas for first aid kits!


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The Night Before Easter

The Night Before Easter
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Except momma settling down
With Baskets filled with candy and toys
And Easter eggs that are colored
and ready to be hidden
Easter outfits were pressed and ready to go.
Shoes were found and lined up in a row.
Everything of tradition for the morning celebration.
That started at 5am.
Two will awake to quietly sneak out of the house.
Soon the birds will fill the air.
And the rest of the children all awake.
To get dressed in their Easter outfits.
Celebration is coming.
Easter baskets are looked over.
Eggs are still to be found.
But on Easter morning
We celebration Christ is Risen!
So the stillness of night lays the anticipation of resurrection.
And the Night Before Easter –
We still know Jesus Wins!

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Is Holy Week for Kids?

Through the last 12 years of being a parent I have struggled with parenting and worship.

It is not always easy.  Kids have whined, screamed, thrown, (no really I had one child throw a shoe in worship), fallen in the pew and bumped their head.  I have dragged children out unwilling. I have had Cheerios spill, coffee spill (yes I have no shame-I have had coffee in church), bottles leak, diapers leak, poppy diapers and gassy babies during “quiet time.” Fights over crayons, who has the most paper and tears when pencils break.

I have walked out of church either so frustrate and frazzled or content that I never could figure out this parenting in worship concept.

Is worship for kids?  Is it for families? Am I to be feed?  If I was dealing with kids all service long-should I just stay home?

Yet every worship service we bring our kids.  Everyone.  Most of the time we are on time.  Every now and then late.  And there are even a few sightings of us attending early service.  Yes I know-early service.

Palm Sunday

While my kids during worship are coloring, or drawing, or talking (shhhhhh) I feel like-with 4-5 kids I

finally got this.  I think.  I feel good at balancing worshiping with parenting.  I think.  I hope.

They are growing and learning.  They don’t always listening -or I don’t think they are, but they know the liturgy.  And they know some hymns.  In fact they will hum the tunes through out the week.
So I have really started teaching my kids about the church year now.  And we have been focusing on Holy week for a while.  Starting with Palm Sunday last Sunday.  They knew this was the week we spent 5 days in worship.  Each worship day special and unique.

Yesterday AnnieQ woke up and asked “So today is Monday Thursday-right?”  And so more teach and learning happens. When does everything go away?  Today they were asking what happened today?  Jesus died-who killed him?  The camp fire is Saturday-right?  Isaiah will always ask, “Can I roast a marshmallow?”

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Last night at Maundy Thursday Worship.  Service started at some of our kids bedtime. They all had been looking forward to the stripping of the Altar, we had been talking about it for a few days.  Robby got to help strip the altar. But Isaiah had fell asleep before the end of the service.  I was disappointed that he missed the end of the service.

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Chances are tonight, he will fall asleep too.  While this means one less child to deal with, I have to wonder is Holy Week made for families or for just adults.  I walked into church with 5 kids last night at 7:30p.m.  when most of them on a normal night would be getting ready for bed if not in bed.  It was a calm night.  Babies fussed a bit, one got taken to the nursery.  Isaiah fell asleep.  The other two colored and drew.  Over all it was stressless worship.  But I have to wonder if there would have been kids there if worship had been a wee bit early, and if Isaiah would have stayed awake to see the end. I wondered at the end if Holy Week services were for kids and families.  I wonder these things often.

A tradition is built on something you do year after year.  Something that your family does every year.  Our family goes to church.  Sunday service.  Advent and Lenten services.  Christmas Eve and Holy Week.  We are there.  My 12-year-old is excited to Acolyte tonight at the Good Friday Service.  Excited.  My kids have been asking me all day, when is church.  This is our Holy Week Tradition.

So the question is Holy Week for Kids.  Yes, for our family. And yes, I would like to see the worship time early so more families can experience this and get their kids to bed at a good time for school the next day.  Maybe some do.  But I like the anticipation that our family has.  I like that my kids look forward to each service and the meaning held behind each one.  I like that in their own way-Holy Week is for them.  Holy Week-the journey of Jesus to the cross.

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How I Teach Upside Down Children History

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Last year we sorta unschooled history and geography.  No curriculum.  We started off our year off with a trip to New York City, cruised to Canada, trip to the Liberty Bell and back home.  From there the kids just though of stuff they wanted to learn and learned it. We used living books and Google to learn from and videos, live Drive Through History, to broaden our horizon. It worked.
With both older boys I’ve used a Charlotte Mason approach to teach History. I’ve used Beautiful Feet for many years and also have used the resources from History Heritage.
Small lessons. Living books. Notebooking.

This year I tried to used Early American History with the two younger ones and Robby was wanting to Study Ancient Greek History.   I really felt like it was not going well.

Let me pause for a moment.

Here is what I wanted my day to look like.

But really my day may look like this:
6:30-my alarm goes off.
Either my husband or I have already been up with babies hours before.
I attempt to get dress and 1 cup of coffee. And brace for kids.

6-8am emerge children. They can be happy or cheerful or I should back up.  I can simply ask for one to get dress or feed the cat-and we can spiral into a 30 screaming fit just because that task was just too much for that moment.
Just one thing not right -like vitamins not at the right moment-can throw them into a screaming and running through the house.

Even what they wear can be an issue.  Pants, socks and shoes are always an issues.

Other mornings-dress, chores, fed with out one melt down or concern. You don’t know.

I start school with two little ones. I’ve moved them to the kitchen tables things work better with the babies. Two working. Isaiah tapping his foot. AnnieQ screaming “stop it.”  Me- not sure what is wrong. Isaiah doesn’t know. I settle them down. Foot taps-screaming-Isaiah makes the connection-more foot tapping-more screaming. Momma calming them down again and more coffee.

This is now one subject. Me -moving them along. Math -science-lang arts.  Something will be bothering Isaiah.  His clothes are not right.  Too much noise.  My breath is too much for him.  AnnieQ can end up on the floor like a rag doll screaming about I don’t know what.

I turn grab another cup of coffee and then try it all again.  Robby is pretty much self guided (thank goodness!!!) but will come and ask questions when needed. So some subject my kids do better at than others.  Some they don’t.  The way I had history set up this year just didn’t work.  It was too much for them and too much for me.  So I moved to Alpha Omega for all three.  I could use Beautiful Feet with Robby-I have all the books and such.  But I went with easy for me.

Two weeks in and I have to say it is working well.  We can still use the shorter lessons for Isaiah, AnnieQ is thriving off the worksheets, and Robby says it is too easy for him so he is happy.  AnnieQ and Isaiah are starting out with learning about themselves  and families. Plus the 1st grade teacher book came with a lot of extra stuff for the kids to do-Isaiah likes the cutting instead of worksheets.  AnnieQ is not so great a cutting.    It was a good starting place for us.

BUT “history” for me doesn’t stop there.  I guess regardless if they were homeschooled or went to a school away from me I would think this was important to learning about our local history and our family history along with American and World History.

Like the other day Isaiah and I was driving back from the Doctors office and drove by this house.  He made me stop so he could take this picture.

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This is one of the older homes in Huntsville.  I was talking to him about how the downtown area us to be the main area of Huntsville.  He wanted to know how lived there, who built the house, where did the family work.  I found out a bit through Facebook friends.

Family history is very important to me.  I want my kids to know where our family comes from. We have history of family who fought in the Civil War & WW2.  My great grand father designed the rose gardens for Mr Heresy.  I have a Great Aunt-Anna Keichline– who was a secret agent in the WW2 along with being the first women architect in Pennsylvania.  My great grand father was a sheriff, mayor and own early Ford dealerships.  It is important that my kids know this history too.  Learned through visiting and stories and seeing pictures.

Pictures are very important for my kids.  It is a visual thing.  Also being adopted they have a need to look more.

I am in day 4 of a 5 day series. Day 1 I  blogged about how I homeschool my upside down kids Language Arts. Day 2 was about Math. Day 3 was Science.

Check out these other homeschooling families and how they teach Language Arts.

Hopscotch with us January 13-17 as we share a round of posts detailing how exactly we teach within our specific niches.

Day 1: how I teach language arts
Day 2: how I teach math
Day 3: how I teach science
Day 4: how I teach history
Day 5: how I teach fine arts

Hopscotch-iHN-January-2013

 

 


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Adopting a Teenager: I Want Him.

Note: I wrote this shortly after the story came out in October.

A simple plea by a foster child.  I want a forever home.

A home that will let me be their child till the day I die.  Where I can call them mom and dad.

A home where I can make mistakes and spread my wings.

A home where I come on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Grandparents for my kids to call grandma and grandpa.

A forever home.

Last week that plea was make by a young man who has knocked at the hearts of many families.  Over 10,000 families stepped forward to say, we will take you.  Be your forever family.

I know what it is like to fall in love with a teenager needed a home.  We had that happen.  Oldest of the 9 siblings, he just wanted to be with 1 of them.  We had the baby of the 9.   After praying about it, know what the history was-we opened our family.  I remember the first day he walked into our house.  He is our forever child. We are his forever family.

10,000 families.  WOW  I pray that there families don’t stop.  That Davion knocking on their hearts opens it to fostering and adopting other older children waiting for forever homes.  Most age out of the system and spend the rest of the lives alone.

Adoption isn’t about just getting kids.  Kids grow up.  Move out.  Get jobs.  Make their own mistakes.  Have families. Build their traditions.  Adoption is about family.  Forever.  Adoption an older child isn’t easy.  We all know that that teenagers are just a hard stage of life.  Young adult hood even more so.  There are no guarantees that they will make all the good choices in life or not end back up where they started.  But if 10,000 people are willing to take the risk on this one kid-then why not take a risk on 10,000 other kids needing homes.

I pray that Davion finds the home he is looking for.  A forever family.  I pray that these other families


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Homeschooling with a Preemie Baby and Grand Baby

As some have pointed out-I have not blogged much lately.  It is not cause I don’t want to-or don’t have any grand ideas or cleaver post titles.  Those are coming to me at 1 or 2 am in the morning while I am feeding our now 10 week old sweet foster baby girl.

Life in our house changes all the time.  With one call we can have a little 4lb 3oz baby girl enter into our lives like that.  We can go from having 6 kids living here to 3 in one day cause my oldest son and his new little family are having major life changing issues.  God has shown us to be flexible and trust Him-He will take care of us.

For the past 10 weeks it has been 4 kids in the house with our new littlest sweet preemie baby.   She turned everything upside down, and her case continues to surprise us.  She is ours for now-all her cuteness and squeaks.  And we are learning to adjust and homeschool with a baby in the house.  The first two weeks she came we did not do a full homeschooling schedule.  Robby our oldest, he continued with what I assigned him, but the younger ones, they did various things but not a full schedule.  Thankful for computers, iPads and movies.  I had to get adjusted to having the new baby, and she was eating about every 2-3 hours.

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We just went through adjusting to homeschooling when my daughter in law moved in and we had a new baby in the house last spring when my sweet perfect grand-daughter Haddie was born!  She now spends at least 2-3 days with us and is just one of my kids when here.  But since she holds the title of grand baby she gets spoiled.  Yep- started the grand ma lollipop of the month club!  (note lollipop did not last long in her mouth-she didn’t know what to do with it)

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Little Squeakers (our baby’s nickname) is on about a 4 hour schedule.  So we can get most of our school work done in the morning now.  By the time we are done Autumn  will show up with Haddie for the day.  My kids are very much baby kids and want to hold and play with the babies!

Little Squeakers we did not let them hold her till about 4 weeks ago.  She was 6 weeks or so early and we wanted her to get a little bigger first.  She really spent the first 3-4 weeks in our room. We are blessed that Robby who is 12 now, took the Red Cross Babysitting training class this last summer and is a trained babysitter now.  He does well with all the kids!

So as we get ready for Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, our homeschooling book learning will come to a rest for a while.  But life learning continues and that is the greatest learning of all.

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Robby said to me the other day, holding Haddie- “Mom, I am going to be a great dad cause I have a great dad and I know how to take care of babies from him.”  And that melted my heart because no book learning is going to teach my boys how to be a great dad but the example of a great dad.  And learning how to change diapers.

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Household Habits: Kid’s Chores

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Every mother struggles with what chores should my child do.  Every child dreads having to do chores. Heck I hate having to “do chores”  But chores are needed.  Chores are what teach kids time management, cleaning skills, and good old fashion cleanliness.

Yeah we are not there yet.  I am trying.  Believe me we are trying.  I have tried every different trick with chores.  Paid, list, stars.  I started Morning Chores and Afternoon chores last December, and those kinda, kinda stuck.  So I decided to stop focusing on the word “chore” and more on the word “habit.”

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What on the chore list needed to be a habit and not a chore.  Like I have make your bed, get dressed, eat breakfast and brush your teeth as some of the morning chores.  Those really are not chores, but more of personally ha  Every morning this is what I expect my kids to do.  So this school year, those types of items are not on the chore list.  Our chore list are actual cleaning chores to help keep the main living area clean.  They each picked three for morning time and four for afternoon time.  They include things like picking up, sweeping, washing windows, wiping down sinks, emptying out the dish washer.  The kids picked out their morning and afternoon chores.  Then I add other habits they need for life, like learning laundry.

As for paid chores, I give them a few every now and then.  I paid the boys to clean out the van-big cleaning.  As Christmas gets closer I will make a list for them.  I also use chores as punishments.  Mostly weed picking. Since they grow a lot in my yard.

Our Chore System  isn’t perfect. I would like to think I am creating more household and life habits than them just doing chores.   It is still work in progress.  But certain areas are staying a little cleaner.  They ask me how to earn money instead of saying “I will pick up my bedroom if you pay me.”  We will keep working on ironing out the wrinkles….


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