Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10b

Our citizenship is in Heaven. This world is full of sin and brokenness. And yet, Jesus promises abundant life here. Food for thought.Italic

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chores, Part 1: Basic Principles and Resources

Ok, let's do this in spurts. If I wait until I have the time to write one big post about all the chore principles & methods, successes & failures in the Next Thing house - well, it will just never get done!

So part one is an overview of our family's basic principles and some resources we have found helpful. And remember, I never claimed to be perfect. *wink* There are dozens of good books, ideas, and methods out there. This is just a sampling of what we've liked and used.

There are two resources that influenced me more than any other in the early years of chore training in our family: The Heart of the Home cd set (well, my original was cassette tapes!) and a book titled The Managers of Their Homes.

Heart of the Home is a 5-cd set by Sue Jakes and Priscilla Stewart that is a wealth of encouragement on many topics relating to a biblical view of motherhood. I really can't recommend this product strongly enough! It was originally a gift from my mother-in-law in 1997, and changed and blessed me, as a young wife and mother of two, in so many ways. It's full of encouragement - both from Scripture and from two moms with a total of 11 children between them. It's also full of practical ideas on everything from learning styles to discipline, to --well -- chores! (It includes a handy study guide with its own resource list, diagrams, and Scriptures mentioned in the talks. And though I love all of it, my favorite talk is "How a Good Mom Can Be a Great Wife" - but that's a post for another time.) I listen again and again for encouragement and have loaned it or given as gifts to many people. Fantastic stuff! (click here for a link to the PCA bookstore, then search for the title, if the link above doesn't work.)

From HOH I gleaned many things that relate to chores. First is just an overall desire to instill in my children a servant's heart. Living in a family is a great way to demonstrate, "by love serve one another" on a daily basis as we work together to make our home a nice place to live. Second, was the "chore fishy" idea. I think they mention it in the talks, and instructions are in the study guide for making the little fish tank. Third, was the "swat team" approach to tidying up - I've sort of adopted and adapted this using some FlyLady ideas and call it "Room Rescues." Quick clean-ups with each person tackling a specific zone in the main living areas - good for sprucing up before Daddy comes home or being ready for that unexpected visitor. Lastly, was a very handy teaching tool for young and old alike:
First: I show you how to do it
Second: Let's do it together
Third: Let me watch you do it
Last: Now you do it on your own

Managers of Their Homes was a resource I discovered a few years later, when beginning to homeschool my oldest. At that time, I had three kids: kindergarten, preschooler, and baby. MOTH is primarily a scheduling resource, but since doing chores are part of the daily schedule, they are discussed at length in the book. (Since I got my first copy almost 10 years ago, they have published a Managers of Their Chores. I hear really good things about the Chore Packs they utilize in that book.) MOTH can be admittedly overwhelming if you try to employ every principle every day. But be wise, cut yourself some slack, and like any good resource, adapt it to fit your needs.

MOTH gave me several things, but there are three key principles on chores that we use in our family. First, to assign any particular chore to the youngest person possible. It's amazing what a 2-year-old can do if given the training and tools, and a lot of praise! (More on that in Part 2.) Following this principle ensures that we really are working as a family and the older children don't carry more than their share of the load. The second principle was to make the chore assignments permanent (or semi-permanent), so that everyone does the same chores every day. It was this principle that helped my oldest, S.-nearly 15-become the household laundry expert. (I'm toying with variations on this, however, for the older ones- so they can learn to do a variety of things for the family. More on that in Part 3.)

The last key chore principle from MOTH was "training time." Schedule a specific time of day to train your children for new chores. (Or to give a refresher course to older ones who slowly forget how to thoroughly clean a bathroom, LOL.) Each day you're working with a particular child on a particular task relating to chores (or cleaning and cooking in general.) I found so many times that I was frustrated by a job poorly done, when I had never really trained them in the right way to do something. (Training Time is a good time to employ four steps above from HOH.)

I know there are other excellent resources available, and I encourage you to find and use whatever seems a good fit for your own famiy. These are the things that have worked (so far) for ours.

Next time - Part 2: Chores for Little Ones. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The kiddos around here are full of constant chatter, keeping their father and me in stitches. Problem is, I don't record most of it and now I've forgotten! Oh, well, that's okay, though, because each day they come up with new sayings to make me smile. Today we are going to a small, local arts center that has hands-on activities for kids. The Littles are very excited and have a lot to say about it. Here are some samples from this morning:

"Mom, when can we go to da art wees-mees-um?" 3yo K., eager to get this party started

(nearly-5-yo A was at my bedside this am before my eyes were open, asking when we were going to leave) "Mom, when are we going to leave?"
"After we eat breakfast, do our chores, and get ready."
"Ok, I'm going to do my chore fishies now."
And off he went to start on his chores while I dragged myself out of bed and to the shower. Later he reappeared.

"Mom, look! I made two new fish. One for eating breakfast, and one for getting dressed!" He proudly showed me two little white paper fish he had drawn and cut out.
I get it , I get it - ya'll are excited to go to the art museum! Can I have my coffee first??

As a side note, the free pass we got from the local library is only admission for four, so the Big Boys are staying home. Last night I asked C, nearly-13yo, if he minded staying home. His reply,

"Sure! We can stay home and have 'bro time!' "

That's what the tiny (and not-so-tiny) ones are saying in this house today. Go visit Not Before 7 for more fun Tiny Talk Tuesday.

**ha ha ha - 10yo M just got up and walked over to me, "Good morning, Mommy. When are we leaving?" Guess I'd better go get this show on the road, huh? ;-)

(If you're curious about the "chore fish" - I'm planning to finally get that chore post going soon... check back later!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

3.4 miles - unplugged

I want to start off by saying, "I did it!!" On July 4, I ran the Peachtree Road Race 10K with about 50,000 of my closest friends! ha ha In truth, a dear friend and encourager ran with me and was truly the wind beneath my wings all the way to the finish line! If you had told me a year ago I would run a 10K, in July heat, in Atlanta, I would have thought you were crazy! But by God's grace I did it! I owe a lot to Kate, and to Janice who ran with me in training, and to the "Wonder Women" of the 5K in March. I also owe a lot to a couple of you out there in the blogsphere who were "virtual encouragers." So thanks and props to all of you! And of course I couldn't have done it without the Lord. I'm so grateful that He has blessed me with the health and ability to run.

Ok, now on to "3.4 miles - unplugged." As a novice runner, I have been using my iP*d as a crutch to keep me going -- fast-paced (and often loud) music that makes my feet move fast! But after several months, the playlist was getting tired - or I was getting tired of it.

On my long run Saturday, I experimented with a more mellow playlist, and just enjoying the music of Indelible Grace and Caedmon's Call, etc., as I ran - not needing the music to push me on. I thought about what Wendy and another new running/blogging friend said about feeling close to the Lord when running - and wondered if I could ever get to the point where I don't need the iP*d to run. And then it happened...

I grabbed my iP*d at the beginning of my run last night only to discover little A(4yo) had drained the battery! At first I was mad, then I thought, "ok, here's my chance to be a real runner - just me, the Lord, and the trail."

It was nice! I did spent quite a lot of time in thought and prayer, when my mind could focus. I enjoyed being able to give a nod and a hello to the other runners/walkers on the trail and hear their reply. I enjoyed the crickets and the rush of the wind in my ears as I climbed the big hill. And oddly, I enjoyed the rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the pavement.

I'm not saying I'll put away the earbuds forever, but I may have to do more runs unplugged!