Our chore system.... done!

I finally finished our little chore system* on the side of the fridge, so here are some more photos.

The three older kids (11, 9 and 8) have the envelopes.  Here are their envelopes all ready for a day of chores:


The details:  I used index cards, then covered them with clear contact paper.  Each card is marked with the child's name and a symbol in the top left-hand corner to indicate morning, noon and evening chores.  As they complete their chores they'll move cards to their "done" envelopes.  Then either after chores are completed that evening or the following morning, the whole stack can be moved back to the "to do" envelope for another day of chores.

Here is a close-up of Ella's chores, as an example.  In the morning she'll be doing a load of laundry and tidying up the laundry room area and doing her living room assignment (each of the kids has one: hers is the clear the mantel and tidy the shoes).  In the afternoons she'll fold a load of laundry and do her living room assignment again and in the evenings she'll clean the kitchen with the boys.


And I just now realized as I see this photo that I forgot to also give the kids their living room assignments in the evenings- that was my original plan.  Sigh.  Well, we'll see how it goes.  Maybe we'll do a general 5-minute cleanup before read-alouds.  Or maybe I'll add another evening card.


For the younger girls (5 and 4), I went back to an old standby.   I had made a "Do... done" chart very similar to this when my older kids were younger.  It's just a little more accessible and visual for them.


The details: Their chores all have simple little pictures and I put them on cardstock and then covered them with clear contact paper.  They have sticky magnets on the back.  As they finish a chore, they can physically move it to the other side: the "done" side.

Honestly, it might have been easier to just do the envelopes for all of the kids, but I was a little sentimental about the little girls having the same chore system as the older kids had had-- we loved this one!-- and I knew they'd like moving their little chores over to the done side, and it is more visual- and there's less shuffling through of cards for their little hands.  So.  There you have it.


Audra (4) has the same three chores for morning, afternoon and evening.  Pretty basic, but these are her first "official" chores, so while she's been a helper up until now, she hasn't had to do anything.  She's a good little worker, though- so I have a few other ideas and may add more when she gets the hang of it.)

I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments!

*There is one other part of our chore system that I'll share soon, too- as soon as I take a photo of it.


Working on chore "charts" for the kids.


Almost done.  I'm finishing up some little drawings and then I'll add them and we can begin the new assignments.  There is so much managing to be done in even the assigning of chores: who can do what, who works well together (or near one another), who will be offended if I remove them from a job they've liked doing, who needs to be near me (or an older sibling) in order to work diligently and be trained in that chore.  A LOT of time and effort goes into the assigning of chores.


Also, today... I baked some bread.  We were out and it seemed easier to make some than to pack up all the kids and drive to the store for some.  Plus, now we get to smell the aroma of freshly baked bread.  Which makes me think of fall, which is quite nearly here.


Moving from summer to fall... as evidenced by my mantel-- the "summer" bunting is still up, and there are cheery sunflowers-- isn't a sunflower just the happiest flower ever?  I love sunflowers.  Must plant more next year -- but the pumpkin candle is out already and another candle is lit today. 


Hope you're having a good day!

Meal planning


Summers are the WORST for me as far as meal-planning goes. My poor family.  I'll hit my groove again in the fall with soups and bread and hot casseroles and meat and potatoes in the crockpot.  I miss my crockpot.

But summertime? Aack. I hardly know what to make. It's hot and I don't want the oven on.  Especially when I've spent the morning canning and my kitchen is already sticky with heat.  If it were just me, we'd just eat a salad every night.  But my children can only handle so many salads.  As I write this, I feel certain I've typed this exact same paragraph in a blog post before.  My apologies.

In an effort to get back into the discipline of meal-planning, I sat down to create a plan. 

The tools: recipe binders, computer (for new recipes I've bookmarked), Sharpies, a master grocery list, and my meal list to post on the fridge.

Shown: meals for week 1

Why do I always forget that it's really as simple as formulating a plan and getting the necessary ingredients?  Then, with the plan in place, the thinking part of the work has already been done for me and I can easily tackle the to-do portion of it. 

So.  We're back at it.  Handy little list-on-the-fridge-that-I-appreciate.

meals for week 2

Garden notes, end of July

{Found this in my drafts folder from last week.  I'd forgotten to post it.  So here it is, a week later.}

Two days ago I went out to marvel at my sweet peas and saw aphids.  Little green MEAN bugs.  I cut the stems that were thick with aphids and tossed them, then went indoors to research what else to do.  What else to do is apparently this: fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and two teaspoons of dish soap, then spray plants.  So I did.  I've noticed that the sparrows are flitting all around my sweet peas lately, too.  And now most of the aphids are gone.  Maybe it was the sparrows, maybe it was the spray solution, but I'm happy they're leaving.


Isaac's pickling cucumbers are (beyond) ready, and his dill has just been growing steadily and waiting patiently for the cucumbers to catch up, so we canned dill pickles tonight.  I've never canned pickles before so we'll see how they turn out, and perfect it as the years go by.

fresh from the garden
canned: 6 pints
We also pressure-canned 4 more quarts of beans tonight.  Have I mentioned that the pressure canner scares me?  I worry about all that pressure and watching it so closely.  So Mark does that.  I just get everything ready for him.  The regular old-fashioned canner?-- that's my domain.  I feel entirely comfortable with that.  So far the only thing we use the pressure canner for is green beans (which I love having as a side veggie for a meal during fall and winter months).

Ella did a second planting of lettuces last week.  I wish we'd done it a month ago, but oh well.  I am so thankful she took the initiative and did it, because it's been on my list for several weeks and I have not taken the time to do it.

We see pumpkins and squash and gourds growing in our back garden.  

Our raspberries are coming to a close- but I'm still getting about a cup or two every few days, so I'm freezing those small batches.

That's all for now.

Without complaint

It dawned on me yesterday that when Mark comes home from work, or even when he calls during the day to check in on me, my attitude is one of complaint.  I basically give him a rundown of who around here is challenging/disobedient/melting down/irritating me/making things generally difficult.  It's not all I talk about, but trust me: I cover it.

God, in His kindness, gently reminded me of this verse:

Do everything without complaining or arguing.  -Philippians 2:14


And: there are no exceptions to this.

No "...except with your husband, of course, to whom you may air any and all complaints."  Nope.  This is the word of God.  Do it all without complaint to anyone.

The verse goes on: "...so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."

-I may become blameless
-I may become pure
-I may be a child of God without fault ("above reproach")
-I may shine like a star as I hold out the word of life

* * *

This morning I was up early (4:30!) and anxious about something so I began journalling and believe me when I say that those anxieties were bound to turn into complaints later on in the day when people were awake.

So I decided to do a little further research on that verse.

complaining or "grumbling" = dissatisfaction, an expression of one's discontent, disappointed expectations
arguing or "disputing" = to think out carefully, to reason.  Inward reasoning which finds expression in controversy or contention.

This, from John MacArthur, I found and wrote in my journal:

"Every circumstance of life is to be accepted willingly and joyfully, without murmuring, complaint or disappointment, much less resentment.  There is no exception.  There should never be either emotional grumbling or intellectual disputing.  It is always sinful for believers to complain about anything the Lord calls them to do or about any circumstance which he sovereignly allows.  Whether the task is difficult or easy, whether the situation involves a blessing or a trial, negative attitudes are forbidden."


Some other notes, mostly from Kay Arthur:

-The peace of God cancels out stress.
-You are not your own, you were bought with a price and you are to glorify God.
-We have the mind of Christ already (1 Corin. 2:16), now we must maintain it.
-Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3).  Soldiers:
*know a life of discipline
*know what it is to bring their bodies into subjection
*know what it is to be under orders.
-"blameless and pure"- speaks of the testimony of the church in the darkness of this age.  A complaining Christian is a poor witness.


Several hours later, I journaled:

I am struggling today, Lord.  Recognizing my sin so fully.  My constant need to "take my temperature", find the negative, and speak it.   Or at the very least grumble about it from within.  Ugh.

Also so aware of the fact that You are merciful to me; that You gently instruct me in the way of righteousness.  No condemnation.  Just truth.  Have I really been carrying on in this sin to this degree for so long?  And you have kindly and patiently waited to bring it to my attention, or waited until I was paying attention, or for the right timing.

I see now that my negativity and grumbling is unbelief.  It really is me not trusting You fully; not receiving what You bring as ordered by You.  It is me wanting to control and reeling when things do not go according to my expectations; grasping at how to order them aright again.  Instead of trusting: pure, simple trust.  Relying upon you wholly, being fully dependent.  I lack faith.

Today, for example: Mark, who has been working lots of overtime lately, was home for a rare lunch break and happened to come home at the same time mom had dropped in for a visit.  Mark was still here when she left, but Isaac was monopolizing his time and I had truly not even had a chance to say more than hello. I was agitated.  I wanted time with him.  So I was grumbling within.  I walked outside to hang some laundry and fought off the complaints in my head (those complaints are noisy!)  and ended up in tears.  But, Lord?  A proper response- a biblical response- would be for me to ACCEPT each instance as from Your hand.  An ordained visit from mom.  A chance for Isaac and Mark to talk, given by You.  An opportunity for me to rest in You, to trust in You, with contentment and gratitude and peace.  And yet: I am anxious and discontent.  I yield to the complaints, not to You.

Oh, Lord: help me submit to You.  Bring me humility, I ask.  Give me a submissive spirit.  May I have the attitude of a servant, yielding to You.  I thank You for revealing it to me.  I thank You for the many opportunities I have to grow in this; to see Your fruit in me, to have discipline in this area.  I desire to be above reproach, and I thank You, Father, for taking me to task on this.  Continue to flood me with Your word and with verses to memorize to battle this and with the clear voice of the Holy Spirit to guide me through each circumstance.  ~ Amen.

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Labeling my canning jars


I decided to make labels for all that I've canned this season- so not for the freezer jam, but everything else.  Give me some cute scrapbook paper and some Sharpie markers and I am pretty much the happiest girl in the world.  I had lots of fun.



On prayer

A couple of years ago Sally Clarkson asked a question in a blog post- What five attributes do you want to characterize your life?  She exhorted her readers to come up with five qualities we want to be known for or marked by.  I made a list of five things, and I still have that list.  In fact, on the first page of each blank journal, I list again those five qualities that I want to be marked by.  I ask that God would grow me in those areas. I look at them from time to time and am reminded of who I want to be.

One of those five is that I want to be prayerful.

This morning I read this verse in Colossians:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  -Colossians 4:2

I did a quick search for the meaning of the word "devote",  here.  And from there I looked up a John Piper sermon on this very verse.  I read the sermon in it's entirety, but it is this that encouraged my heart the most:

(Before you get into that quote, let me just say that earlier in the sermon Piper defines "things" not as "objects or stuff, but whatever your heart desires or needs".)  Okay, here's the excerpt that encouraged me:
The essence of prayer is the expression of our dependence on God through requests.
Now think about this for a moment. God's will is that we, his creatures, ask him for things.  And it is not just his will, it is his delight. He loves to be asked for things. Proverbs 15:8 says, "The prayer of the upright is His delight." He is so eager to hear prayers and respond to them that he says in Isaiah 65:24, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." In fact, he takes special steps to see to it that he is constantly badgered. I say that reverently and, I think, truly on the basis of Isaiah 62:6-7 - "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." So God loves being asked for things so much that he appoints people to "give him no rest" but to "remind the Lord" and "never [to] keep silent."
Meditating on this is very encouraging to our faith and hope. This means that God, the Creator of the Universe, who holds our life in his hands and rules the world, is the kind of God who loves to be asked for things.   [Italics mine.  Full sermon here.]
Oh, this is an encouragement to me!  God delights in our asking.  He is eager to hear our prayers and respond to them.  He wants us to keep on asking, to keep reminding him of those requests. 

It encourages me because knowing that he delights in me asking?  --That makes me want to ask.
It encourages me because it reminds me that God does hear me and will respond.
It encourages me because there are prayers I have prayed for years.  The same ones.  Those same requests, the pleas of my heart for change in me, for growth in relationships or difficult situations, for those I love to know Jesus, and for desires of my heart that I continue to offer up to him.  He wants me to keep right on "badgering", as John Piper puts it. ;)

I love that "reminding" part, too.  I remember that is one of the things that impacted me about the life of George Muller.  He did that in prayer.  He would sit at his desk and open up his Bible and point out God's words to Him and in essence say, "God, this is what You said right here.  Make good on Your Word for the sake of Your name and glory."- and he would pray according to that promise as if to "remind" God of His own words.  Of course God already knows, and yet- that passage in Isaiah is an encouragement to me that God doesn't mind the reminding, that in fact he desires it.  I have done this in prayer, too.  Just last week I sat with Scripture before me and prayed it right back to God and reminded him-- This is what You have said.  I believe it, I trust it.  You have promised this.  Now will you ACT upon it, Lord?  And it heartens me to know that this is an acceptable way to pray.

May you be encouraged today that our God is the kind of God who loves to hear your prayers; who loves to be asked!