Category Archives: planning and scheduling

Barb Shelton in Portland, August 20!

Barb Shelton, author of Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La, will be speaking in Portland, OR on August 20. The event runs from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

The theme for the day is “Refreshment, Re-focus, and Equipping.”

Find all the details here:

Registering is an easy process:

Read the info, print out the registration form (click the link under
“How to Register”), and mail to Barb. There are three ways to pay:
– Paypal (click the Paypal button)
– Check or Credit Card (click the Order button)

The seminar is at Western Seminary. From I-84 go south on 39th to
Hawthorne (there’s a Fred Meyer on the corner). Turn left on Hawthorne
(east). Turn left on 55th and then the first right (Madison) to get to
the chapel parking lot.

Get directions from Mapquest or Google Maps with this address:

5511 NE Hawthorne Street, Portland, OR 97215

Registration deadline is August 17th, and space is limited, so
register early. Cost is $25 per mom (dads and teens come free).

Tell your friends! Hope to see you there!


Chore planning resource

Since January’s a great time to work on getting organized, I’m going to be focusing on some of the websites and tools available, at least for the next week or two.

Motivated Moms has a planner available in several formats. They’ve taken all the typical home chores and spread them out through the calendar year, and included a few extra personal-care things, like taking your vitamins. You can get it with or without a Bible reading plan built in.

I’ve used this planner for a few years. Sometimes I’m good about it, and sometimes it goes by the wayside for a week or month or more. I admit it, I’m scattered. If I were more methodical, I might not need a chore planning calendar. On the other hand, there’s something about checking off items on a checklist, that even my born-organized friends seem to appreciate.

I was going to try to go without their planner this year, but I’m already finding that without their prompts I’ve forgotten to water my plants. I’d sigh, but the tool is available, after all, and it’s not too spendy ($8 for a year), so I should count my blessings, bite the bullet (to mix a few metaphors), and use it.

Yes, I just now bought and downloaded the PDF file, and I’m printing out the page for this week. Here’s a sample of what I bought. They have samples of their other products, too (just scroll to the bottom of the page at the link). There’s even an app in the App Store (I have no idea what that means, being still in the dark ages so far as cell phones is concerned). They used to offer the out-of-date planner for free, but I don’t see that on their website now. (Could be there and I’m missing it, or could be they left it off.)

Anyhow, I heard somewhere that when you check things off a checklist, something in your brain releases feel-good chemicals, serotonin or something like that. If you need a checklist to help you keep your plants from dying of thirst, to remind you of myriad homekeeping details (albeit in bite-sized pieces, a few things a day, to keep the whole thing from being overwhelming), or just to get the serotonin flowing, it’s a good tool.

School planning

I just realized I haven’t said anything about our school planning for this year.

Some of the planning just took care of itself, more or less, in the sense that someone else did most of it. That’s part of being a part of a Gileskirk co-op (history, literature, worldview — actually, Moral Philosophy is the term, I think). The syllabus is laid out, and the lead mom in the co-op has worked out what she wants in the way of quizzes (er, Opportunities), discussions, projects and papers. Bless her! It’s making the transition to the greater complexity of high school so much less intimidating.

So I just take the Gileskirk assignments and plug them into our weekly plan. Am trying for a mix of working together and independent work, and it seems to be going fairly well. I need to keep checking, though, I think. What’s that old saying, “You get what you expect when you inspect.”

Anyhow, I worked out a schedule, included here.

Yellow are blocks of group time, blue are blocks of individual time. The chores listed at the bottom are just the after breakfast chores. Whoever is chief cook for the day also bears the title “bottle washer” and washes all dishes, and that’s a rotating job so it shows up on the menu plan rather than this generic chart that fits every day except Thursday, our outside lessons and errand day.

Some individual activities have to be coordinated. Math, for example, involves a book used by all (at the moment) but since everyone is at a different lesson, only one person at a time can do math. Same thing for French on the computer, and music practice.

CheckUp is accountability time. I want to see the fruit of their labors. It might involve inspecting chores, or it might just be a glance at their progress page to see what they’ve been working on. I might ask for a short oral narration, or read a 200 word summary, or look over a worksheet or page of math problems.

The blank progress page looks something like this (it’s a work in progress).

The lines at the top are “off” because I haven’t fixed them yet. I deleted a child’s name, for one thing, and a term and a year that had been typed into my blank form, and it messed up the lines. It’s an easy fix, just haven’t taken the time.

At the moment the girls are doing several lessons of Life of Fred a day. That’s because they all started the Fractions book last week and are going through at their own pace, from two to five lessons a day, depending on the ability of the student. Eventually I expect them to find their places in the program, to where they might not be whizzing through the math books. (After all, LoF goes on to higher math, stuff even I don’t remember how to do.)

The “Assignments” column gives an idea of how to document their work in a particular subject. This form was adapted from an earlier version where I filled in chapters or page numbers that needed to be done by the end of the week. I assigned a week’s worth of work at a time. At the moment, though, I’ve given them responsibility for figuring out how much work they’re going to get through. So far it’s working. I think. I had a bad headache yesterday and didn’t do any CheckUps, and today’s Thursday, the weird day with the crazy schedule, so tomorrow is when I’ll find out how far they got this week. It would be nice to be pleasantly surprised.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Edited reading list

In the right sidebar (you can’t see it if you click directly on a post, but it’s visible when looking at the blog as a whole, I’ve no idea why), I’ve begun to list the books we’re reading together, or that I’m reading myself.

Just finished previewing Song of Abraham by Ellen Gunderson Traylor, which is on our Gileskirk reading list. In some ways it’s a great read, filled with word-pictures of the Middle Eastern landscape as it would have been seen by one walking the long miles, and sprinkled with snippets about ancient cultures that put the reader into the picture.

Actually, that’s one of the problems with the book. Though carefully and sensitively written, it brings the depravities of the cultures too much to life for those who have not become seared, hardened, and calloused by watching much of modern television and movies. Yes, our students have an intellectual understanding of the evils of men — sometimes a little more than intellectual, hearing details on the news, but they haven’t seen a lot of graphic violence played out in front of their eyes, and so they still have the capacity to be disturbed by it.

I also have a problem with novelizations of Biblical events. Of necessity, the author is putting words in the mouths of historical figures, thoughts in their heads that they might or might not have entertained. Sometimes, as in this book, it seems a bit of a stretch to me. Yes, it might make for a more entertaining story, or a way to ratchet up the conflict and tension, but… not sure “the Bible as entertainment” is quite the way I want to go. If it helps me get a clearer picture of the times and culture, yes, but if it puts words and thoughts in the mouths of people of the Bible that aren’t in the Original, that are only speculations, and debatable speculations at that, it gives me pause.

Anyhow, Song of Abraham was a riveting read, seemed to be plausible for the most part, but it won’t be something I’ll recommend to our girls until they’re older.

Menu Plan Monday

Well, we did it.

I’ve been thinking about menu planning for a long time now. (How long? you ask? Well, I’m calendar challenged, and add to that I have very little sense of time, so let’s just leave it at “long time now”. Years?)

Oh, I’ve done menu planning before. Before the food allergies hit so hard (oh, my, that would be 14 years ago!) I would look at the inserts to the Tuesday Food Day and plan menus around the sale items.

While we were on our rotation diet I planned two weeks of menus at a time.

Tried once a month cooking. Threw my back out. Tried a variation–doubling recipes and freezing half. Worked for awhile but then the girls started their growth spurts and quite often that “extra half” got devoured, or seriously depleted, leaving enough leftovers for lunch but not enough for everyone to have for another dinner.

When life got busy and the allergies had abated somewhat, I started cooking catch-as-catch-can. I’d found I pretty much bought the same staples every week (milk, eggs, fresh fruit and veggies, bread either bought or baked) and once a month or even less often I could stock up on pantry items (pasta, rice, dried beans, half a side of beef for the freezer, that sort of thing) and I just fell into a rhythm of cooking.

But sometimes when life is busy the rhythm sort of stumbles. You find yourself fixing spaghetti twice in one week. Maybe even thrice. (I guess it’s the equivalent for working-outside-the-home moms when they’re going through a drive-through several times a week.) There’s the occasional night when the children just graze and there’s no formal dinner on the table. You know things have to change.

So… I brainstormed lists of foods. Beef/pork/lamb (“meat” in other words), chicken, pasta, meatless, pasta, crockpot. Sunday is a shared meal at church, so “Tea” is the order of the day.

I assigned an order to the days. For the summer, starting with Sunday, it’s Tea – Crockpot – Pasta – Chicken – Meatless – Meat – Leftovers. When fall hits, we might have more than one crockpot day, depending on our schedule, and it might not be Monday but some other day. Still, the summer is a great time to have a regular slow cooker day, when we can try out new recipes and also avoid heating up the kitchen. The other days can be slow-cooker days, too, depending on the recipe chosen.

I put all the names of the recipes I’d brainstormed onto quarter-index cards. (Cut an index card in half. Cut the halves in half. That’s what I mean.) I happened to have four colors of cards, so I assigned a different color to each category (except crockpot, tea, and leftover day).

I wrote down a cook rotation schedule on the July calendar. Mom-Eldest-Middlest-Youngest-Mom-etc. We then took turns selecting recipes. (I went last, after the girls had taken turns selecting all their recipes. We avoided conflict, in that Eldest got to be first to pick from the Meat category, Middlest got to be first to pick from the Pasta category, and Youngest got to be first to pick from the Chicken category. Since they all had favorites in every category, they seemed satisfied.

The choosing went on sort of like captains picking players for teams, until we’d assigned a meal to every day of the month.

It’s worked pretty well so far, five out of the last seven days. We were thrown off a little by park days where we went to a local river to cool off and so dinner didn’t get cooked. But other than that it’s working.

Housekeeping, blog style

Have spent an hour or so this morning cleaning up the links in the sidebar of the home page of this blog. Several of the pages I had linked to were gone, disappeared in that mysterious way of web pages.

Happily I was able to find the pages at the Wayback Machine. I don’t know how long they’ll be stored there, but in each case I linked to the Wayback Machine’s list of pages for that site. You can click on the links there to see what was saved. In some cases, even downloadable forms in PDF are still available, just a click away.

It’s the time of year when home educators are working on plans for next year, so I hope the planning pages in the links will come in handy for somebody!

I just heard the washer spin to a stop, so it’s time to hang out those clothes and let them dry by solar power. That’s one of the pluses of 99 degree weather…

Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education

Have I mentioned I love this resource?

Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education is a book from Simply Charlotte Mason that simplifies the planning process. You don’t have to be a CM educator–it works well for anybody who uses books (even textbooks) in their homeschool. It’s especially useful for someone educating using CM techniques, though, as the name signifies.

You can buy it as a physical book, spiral bound, or as an e-book if you want an instant download and don’t mind reading off the computer or printing out the book and putting it in a binder or getting it bound at the office store. (With the official school year fast approaching, I have one friend who elected to do just that.) Purchasers also can download PDF pages of the forms in the book, for convenience in printing.

In five steps you go from big-picture planning through planning for the year, the term, the week, and finally, the day. The author allows for natural differences in families and styles and throws in lots of resources, lists, and examples to help you in your planning. Using the free Bookfinder at the site makes planning even easier! (I haven’t tried the free trial of the online CM Planner yet. I’m kind of afraid to. What if it turns out to be so convenient that I don’t want to go without it after the free trial runs out?)

I’m on step 3 out of the 5-step process. I kind of stalled there a few weeks ago due to being over-busy with daily life. Need to get cracking!