Reply to this if you are ready for the weekend

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Happy Friday to all of you! Are you as ready for the weekend as I am? It’s been an eventful week for me. I don’t have adequate words to share just now about some of the happenings of my week, but it has been astounding in many ways.
Today is the day to finish off the Home Blessings and Zone Missions for the week. Don’t put these off to catch up on tomorrow. Reserve your Saturdays for family fun day.
Remember that even if you do your missions in a hurry today, it’s better than not at all. Take a look around your house. What is out of place? Set the timer for 15 minutes and put things away or get rid of them. Just this small thing will make a huge difference in how your home looks.
Your Zone Mission is to take out all of the trash. Since this is something I normally do on Friday, I am also going to take a quick trip through Zone 1 to put anything away that has landed in my entryway.
Here’s a quick reminder of your Weekly Home Blessings. If you have not finished them, make it a game with your kids and encourage them in their efforts.
Wash bedding
Dust and vacuum
Wipe windows and mirrors
Toss magazines and paper
Take out the trash, sweep, and mop
If your children have slacked off in getting their beds changed, get those going this morning. If you have extra bedding for the beds, quickly remake the bed with them. Children need to learn this routine, so they carry it with them when they move out. So many young adults have not learned this important life skill.
As we are in the middle of the month, check your supplies and pantry for the basics that you like to keep on hand. Add items to your shopping list for the next time you do errands.
Send me pictures of your progress in your zones this week.
Today’s Zone Mission is to take out all of the trash.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Have a great weekend!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Happy Valentine’s Day! I am thankful for all of you, and I count it a privilege to write and encourage you in your journey. You are a blessing to me.
What are you doing today to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your family? It does not have to be elaborate or expensive. Some of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories include making cards at home and baking some cookies. Tell your family that you love them and write little notes.
Do something for your husband. Cook something he likes if you are not able to go out on a date tonight. Have some quiet time together tonight after dinner and talk. Tomorrow night is date night, and if it has been a while since you went out, make plans to go out as soon as you can arrange it.
Another fun thing we have done for Valentine’s Day is a verse search with the word “love” in the verse. We talk about how we are to love God and others as we looked up the verses and read together. For handwriting practice, your students can copy a verse or two.
Yesterday’s email about lists had responses from many of you. Some of you said I nailed it on the head with re-writing lists, and I heard from a few who stress out about making a list and do not have one at all. I love the variety among my readers!
For those of you who wing it without a list, I encourage you to build a notebook for your home routines and things you want to accomplish. It will help you find a focus each day.
Today’s Zone Mission is to wash your bathroom rugs and wipe down your washer and dryer.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!

Are you making a list and checking it twice?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Who are my list makers who read this regularly? Yes, I know there are a lot of you out there. You love making lists. You love paper and pens and planning. You love the smell of new crayons and buying office supplies.
You also spend more time re-writing lists and making them pretty. Where you struggle is in execution of the list. You put so much stuff on the list. You get overwhelmed just looking at the list. You don’t know where to start.
Today, I want you to just choose something small on your list to focus on. It might be a step to completing something on the list. It may not be the whole project. I want you to start it and spend 15 minutes on it.
The other thing I want you to do with this massive to do list is to use it as a guide, but each day pick one or two things from it to work on. Don’t try to knock off a lot of things at once, but start using a consistent approach to your list.
Your list will start to come down in the number of things on it as you do something daily. If you want the feeling of a checked off list, then write a little sticky note for the day and check it off.
As you complete things on the big list, just cross them off. Resist the urge of your perfectionism to re-write the list and make it pretty again. Just keep it handy in your notebook. It’s not supposed to be a work of art. (smile)
Progress is progress. Small, short steps will get you where you want to be. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. You do not have to do it all at once in order to be successful.
Tell me what you are doing today for anti-procrastination day!
Your Zone Mission today is to take stock of your bathroom supplies. What do you need to purchase or order?
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is soup, sandwiches, and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Life Changes and Routines

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Who has had a big life change in the past year? Life changes happen to all of us at different times. They do not have to disrupt our lives and routines completely. The daily routines are what helps us navigate through the changes in life.
For the past 18 months, I have traveled some hard roads as a parent. The journey is not complete, and there have been changes to my family during the last 18 months.
My family grew in the last 18 months. A child moved out and got married. That is a big change for our family. Another child moved from one state to another. This was another change for our family.
One of my children has been dealing with some big issues in the past year, and he knows that his family is the foundation that is strong for him.
In the past 10 years, our family has suffered significant losses, and it was hard walking through the valley of grief. But we found love, joy, and steadiness within our family.
Today, I learned of some important things about my past that will bring people into my life that I previously not known. My family has expanded again, and I am happy and blessed to be going through this journey.
None of the changes in my life are a surprise to God. He knew all of this before I was born. I have been contemplating this a lot lately. I was born in the late 60’s and put up for adoption. My story could have ended before it ever began, but God ordained my steps.
When it seems like things are crazy, and really right now they are pretty crazy. I have my faith and my family. I have the important things.
My routines keep me moving forward. I don’t have to think about them on a crazy days. They just get done because I have built that muscle memory on what to do next.
If you have been resisting the routines and structure of the FlyLady system, I really want you to try it. It is only 6 basic steps for each of the daily routines. You can do it! I know you can because I do it.
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter in your home office or your desk area.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
My menu plan for Tuesday is pizza and a salad.
Have a great day!

Taking Care of Yourself

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Happy Monday to all of you! What’s your perspective today about the week ahead? Some of you have been going through a trial, and you are weary. Some of you have been enjoying a peaceful time and are energized and ready to take on the day.
No matter what is going on around you, I want you to tell yourself that this is going to be a great week! You get to make each moment count, and your attitude will spread to your family.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 3 Missions: The Main Bathroom & One Extra Room
Monday – Wash the Shower Door or Shower Curtain.
Tuesday – Declutter in your Home Office or your Desk Area.
Wednesday – Check your Bathroom Supplies.
Thursday – Wash your Bathroom Rugs. Wipe down your washer and dryer.
Friday – Empty all of your trash cans.
Set your timers for 15 minutes and then take a break when it goes off!
Weekly Menu Plan
Monday – Corn Dogs & Tater Tots
Tuesday – Pizza and a Salad
Wednesday – Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday – Lasagna and a Salad
Friday – Take out
Enjoy your week! Keep your routines simple.
At the beginning of this newsletter, I talked about how your attitude spreads to your family. This is such a true concept for all of us. I wanted to elaborate a bit with you on how you are modeling the things you want to see in your children.
Are you taking care of yourself? A great deal of your attitude has to do with how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your family.
Are you eating healthy, resting, exercising, and drinking water? If you are struggling with any of these, I want you to pick just one of them to work on this week. If you look at my menu plan for the week, it does not look extremely healthy. What you aren’t seeing is that I eat chicken and a salad almost every day of the week. I may have red meat once a week for the blood and muscle building that I get from it.
Are you struggling with mental roadblocks? Our minds play such games with us, and sometimes we have to take some time away from the noise of our lives to quiet our minds and relax. We have that little voice in our heads that berates us for our lack of perceived perfection. You need to quiet that voice and remember that you are doing fantastic one baby step at a time.
How are you emotionally? I remember my years of being a mom to many young children. It was draining emotionally for me. I had to find ways to take care of myself emotionally. You have heard about pouring out to everyone and not restoring yourself.
How are taking care of yourself spiritually? This was not put in order of importance. I wanted to put it last, so it stays with you. Your spiritual nourishment is extremely important. You cannot minister to your family and others at the expense of your spiritual wellness.
You need time in your day for prayer, Scripture, and quiet with the Lord. You need time in the fellowship of other believers. You need to have that time where you are filled and nourished by the Spirit. If you neglect yourself spiritually, you will find that the other areas really struggle.
If you feel like you are drowning in the demands of your life, I want you to take a look at your calendar. Block off time to take care of yourself. You have to put your self-care down as an important thing on your calendar.
Some of you are going to see this as selfish. It is not. Taking care of yourself enables you to take better care of your family.
Email me today and tell me how you are doing in taking care of you. Tell me your plans of what you can do this week to take care of yourself. This is your commitment to you.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to wipe the shower door or wash the shower curtains.
My menu plan for Monday is corn dog and tots.
Have a blessed day!

On Your Way to Peaceful Mornings

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Happy Friday! Who else is ready for the weekend and family fun day? It has been a busy week for me, and my guess is that it has been a busy week for many of you, too. Let’s pause for a moment and just breathe.
There, that’s better.
How do you start your morning off? My FlyLady routines have helped me so much with my mornings starting off better than they used to start off. The morning routine really starts the night before, and the prep stuff you do the night before makes such a huge difference!
Several years ago, before FlyLady, I can remember how rough almost every morning started for me. I really did not enjoy the chaos that came with the morning time in my home. For those of you with several young children, it is hard to meet the needs of yourself and them at the same time.
As I learned from the FlyLady, I learned to shine my sink at night and lay clothes out for the next day. I learned to check the calendar and see what we had to do the next day. I learned the importance of going to bed at a decent hour.
These things made the morning better, but the other thing that really improved my outlook in the morning was getting up before my children woke me up. This habit was a little slower in coming. The years I had nursing babies was a little different than the years when I did not.
As I started getting up before the children, I found that I was really happy if I had an hour alone before they woke up. This allowed me to have time to eat breakfast, have my quiet time, and exercise. If I allowed another 30 minutes, I could shower, too.
This did not happen all at once. I gradually backed the time up as I kept searching for what worked for me. This also meant that I was backing my bedtime up, too.
Eventually, I found a balance in when to go to bed and when it worked best for me to get up. These days I am up between 5:00 and 5:30. The boys are not up before 8:00 most days, so I feel like I have had half a day to do the things I need and want to do before they need me.
This may not be reasonable for some of you. That is okay. It is just working for me in the season of life that I am in right now.
Find a happy place for you to have a great start to your morning. The FlyLady recommends at a minimum that you get up 15 minutes before your family. So you can start there.
Send me pictures of your progress in your zones this week.
Today’s Zone Mission is to check the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink.
Your Home Blessing for today is to empty the trash, sweep, and mop.
My menu plan for Friday is take out.
Have a great weekend!

Making Memories and Doing Things for Others

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Are you taking time to make memories with your children? Many of you are in the midst of raising small children, homeschooling, caring for your home, and many more responsibilities.
When was the last time you ditched the lesson plan and did something fun with your children to make memories?
Next week is Valentine’s Day, and this is traditionally a time for sweethearts. I want you to take a minute and think about the widows and widowers in your church or neighborhood.
Is there something you and your children could do to brighten the day for these people who might be lonely?
Over the years, we have done different activities to do something for others on or close to Valentine’s Day. We have made cookies and cards and visited nursing homes. We have sang for the residents, played games, and just visited with them.
We have made cards for elderly family members who do not live near to us, but we mailed the cards to them beforehand. It’s the small things that we do for others that help us make memories as a family.
Children love to be helpers and make things. Channel this energy into blessing someone next week. Valentine’s Day does not have to be just for sweethearts. It can be a way for your family to share love with someone else who might need the encouragement.
Within your family, take time to write something you are thankful for about each person in your home. Encourage small children to participate and write down what they say.
If you have older children who do not live at home any longer, encourage the younger children to send them a card. I love that my children love one another. It is something I have always fostered in them. Strong family ties are important to me.
Take a few minutes today and make some memories and share love with others.
Today’s Zone Mission is to declutter empty plastic wrap boxes.
Your Home Blessing for today is to declutter paper and magazines.
My menu plan for Thursday is chicken and a salad.
Have a great day!

How are you doing with your homeschool paperwork?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Do you have your school records for the year up to date? Do you have a high school student who needs to look into colleges or testing? Do you have to do a yearly portfolio?
Sometimes, you put things on our list to do, and these things just languish because you don’t want to do them. You put them off. Today is the day I want you to start checking on the status of your homeschool paperwork that you are required to have by your state laws.
If you have a high school junior or senior, you need to check their records post haste. There is nothing worse for me that to hear from a parent of a high school senior in the spring because they needed a transcript.
Your homeschool graduate will need a transcript even if they go to a community college. If they want to apply for scholarships, they will need information from you.
Even if you do not have high schoolers, you still have school paperwork of some sort to keep up with for your students. You need to have a regular time in your weekly schedule to purge and file school papers. Update any records you are required to keep. It is a lot easier to do your school paperwork a little at a time versus doing it at the end of the school year.
As an aside, I am loving the online program we are using this year. It keeps track of everything. I just check it daily to see the boys’ progress and grades. I can tell immediately if they have not completed their work. While it has not always worked for us to use an online program exclusively, this was a great decision for our family this year.
This is a good time of year to evaluate how your children are doing with their curriculum. You may have a student who is going through books faster than you anticipate, and you will need to have the next book or level ready for them soon. You may have a student who is struggling with a subject, and you may need to order some supplemental books for them.
Some of you will be attending homeschool conferences this spring, and working on your paperwork now will help you make curriculum decisions for next year.
If your state requires end of year or standardized testing, start checking dates and get it scheduled. Each state has different requirements, so I am just making some suggestions for common things that many of us have to do.
Your Zone Mission today is to clean out the fridge.
Your Home Blessing for today is to wipe windows and mirrors.
My menu plan for Wednesday is spaghetti and a salad.
Have a blessed day!

Are you homeschooling a range of ages?

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
Once a year or so, I pull up this article that I wrote about homeschooling with little ones. When I start getting emails about balancing the needs of homeschooling an age range of children, I know it’s time to pull this article back out for you.
Since I have been homeschooling for more than 15 years, I get lots of questions from people about homeschooling. One question I get often has to do with homeschooling older children while having preschoolers and/or toddlers in the house. I thought it would help if I put together some things I have done over the years that helped me juggle the needs of school-age children and my little ones.
When I am planning lessons for my older children, I try to find simple ways to include my younger ones. For instance, when my older children learned about flight and the physics behind flying, I read picture books about flight to my little ones. We made paper airplanes. I would provide simple craft supplies for preschoolers to make picture while talking to the older children about flight. I also found that it helped if I had “stations” for the baby to play safely in different parts of the house.
Fortunately, there is not a rule that you have to do school in one place in the house. We move around the house doing school, and the baby is more entertained by a change of scenery from room-to-room. By using the hands-on method of learning, I can plan activities for a very large age range.
When the older children studied the Boston Tea Party, we included the younger ones in the craft part of making the “tea” boxes. The baby was also included in our “tea party.” I found so many easy to read picture books for the American Revolution time period. Of course, we read and acted out Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow.
Reading to babies and toddlers is foundational to their communication skills. It is so easy to include them during the homeschool day with easy-to-read books. If you have children who still read out loud to you each day, the babies and toddlers can be a part of that time of your day, too. There is no such thing as too much reading to babies and toddlers.
Other ways to engage learning in young children while older ones are working on school is dependent on the age and skill level of the toddler or preschooler. As soon as my children are past the stage of putting everything in their mouths, I provide tactile activities for them. A little one can sit in his/her high chair beside of you and work on fine motor skills by eating or playing with toys.
I kept a pack-n-play near our school area for the little one to have a place to move about and play while we work on school work. I didn’t want to always contain them in a high chair or by holding them because I wanted them to be able to move around and learn skills.
As my toddlers grew into preschoolers, I would provide matching games, sorting blocks, salt dough, chunky crayons, and other age-appropriate craft materials. If I didn’t mind a mess, I would give them non-toxic paints or paint-with-water books.
Toddlers and preschoolers also need large muscle play time. Often, the older children would take short breaks from school work to play with the little ones. This is such a beneficial time to build relationships with siblings. Babies and toddlers should never be made to feel like they are in the way of your school day.
Don’t be afraid to let your little ones experience arts and crafts. You need to provide lots of opportunities for them to be creative and learn how things work.
Field trips are another great way to involve little ones in what the older children are studying. Some of our favorite homeschool memories have come from field trips. It amazes me what my children remember from these trips.
I realize that you also need one-on-one teaching times with older students.
One year I had from preschool through 12th grade, so I know this fact very well. What I can tell you that I learned is that you can be creative in where you fit in the one-on-one time for each student. As a homeschooler, you are not constrained to doing school work between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.
If your high school student needs you to help with algebra or writing, then work that time in during nap time for the little ones. You might have to work with your older students on difficult subjects when your husband is home and can help.
One year, we had some “night school” times when I focused on teaching the older children difficult concepts while my husband played with the baby. It is not ideal to do it that way because I think Moms need a break in the evenings from school work when possible, but you have to find a way to works for your family.
Schedules and routines are very important for children, especially young children. I tried to keep our outside of the house activities to a minimum when I had a lot of little ones in the house.
We had certain times of the day where everyone knew what was supposed to be going on. We were not slaves to the clock. But we had regular times to get up, eat, do household tasks, do school work, rest, and play. It helped everyone to know what was coming up next. Of course, there were days when we really needed a change of scenery, and we would pack up and go to the park, library, or science center. Sometimes we just needed an outing.
There are lots of other ways that people have successfully balanced homeschooling older children while also having little ones in the house. I welcome comments and questions.
Your Zone Mission today is to declutter unnecessary items from the silverware drawer and wash the tray that organizes your utensils.
Your Home Blessing for today is to dust and vacuum.
My menu plan for Tuesday is hamburgers and a salad.
Have a great day!

Taking the road less traveled

Getting Organized:
In your Home and Homeschool 
 

Dear Friends,
The second week of the month is my favorite week for our zone missions. The kitchen is where we nourish ourselves and our families. It is the hub of our home, and it needs a little love and detail cleaning each month. Shining your sink daily helps, but there are other little things that we just do not do very often.
Here are you missions for the week:
Zone 1 Missions: The Kitchen
Monday – Clean the stove top (If you have time, wipe out the microwave, too.)
Tuesday – Declutter unnecessary items and clean the silverware holder.
Wednesday – Clean out the leftovers from the fridge. Start and the top and work your way down quickly.
Thursday – Declutter empty plastic wrap boxes, etc.
Friday – Check the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink.
Set your timers for 15 minutes and then take a break when it goes off!
Weekly Menu Plan
Monday – Beef stroganoff
Tuesday – Hamburgers and tator tots
Wednesday - Spaghetti and Salad
Thursday – Chicken and Salad
Friday – Take out
Enjoy your week! Keep your routines simple.
Recently, I have been reading articles about young adult homeschool graduates taking the road less traveled and not going to college after graduation. I wanted to encourage you that your young adult children can be successful without a four-year degree.
How do you know the best way to choose a high school curriculum when you don’t know what the Lord has in store for your child once they graduate and are ready to launch out of the nest.
As my children started their high school years, I kept their classes general in their freshman and sophomore years. Their electives were chosen with care to help them find something they enjoyed doing. For some of my children it was art lessons, music lessons, or small engine repair classes.
In their junior and senior years, we focused more on their strengths and passions with sensitivity to what they felt God was calling them to do.
Our oldest did not take any college credit classes in her junior and senior years. She focused on her basics in English, math, science, and history. Her electives were music and art oriented. She did service projects, and she helped me run the household. She went to cosmetology school and has an associate’s degree. She has worked as a stylist for 8 years.
Our next child wanted to be a plumber from a young age, and he was a plumber’s apprentice during his junior and senior years. In his freshman and sophomore years, we focused on science and math. He also took guitar lessons.
Our third child wanted to do something hands-on, and he did some work as a landscaper in his junior and senior years. He found that was not something he wanted as a career, but he learned a lot of good skills. He had some big life changes following high school, but he is married and works for a Heating and Air company.
Our fourth child is also handy with working on things, and he is an amazing chef at home. He is a senior this year and is working in Heating and Air with his brother. We have focused on math and science with him during high school with a lot of time cooking and creating in the kitchen. He is by far the best chef in the house.
Our fifth child is a sophomore this year, and he is extremely good at taking things apart and fixing them. We do a lot of math along with the other core subjects. I encourage him to work on things around the house. He maintains all of our yard equipment. He is also a master organizer and cleaner. The next two years, we will work together to combine education and the things he loves to do.
All children are not cut out for four year colleges, and it can be a big waste of time and money if they are forced to go. Explore other options with them. Help them find their gifts throughout their high school careers.
Tell me about your homeschool graduates!
Your Home Blessing for today is to wash the sheets.
Your Zone Mission for Monday is to clean the stove top (wipe out the microwave if you have time).
My menu plan for Monday is beef stroganoff and a salad.
Have a blessed day!